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March 2002

The sexoculinary self

Glancing up at the Empire State Building to do my ritual salute to King Kong and his blonde girl, I caught a glimpse of a star in Victoria's Secret underwear; a star so enormous my senses were shocked into wondering if all larger-than-life commodities would sell at twenty times their size. A diamond necklace from Tiffany's may, needless to say, but a plate of shirin polo?*

Does everything lose its sex appeal when it reaches a certain size? Does King Kong? But more importantly, what is one to do with a Victoria's Secret Christy Brinkley image fifiteen times the size of the blow up doll for sale at $89.99 at ? And those undergarments, are they still bearably sniffable in a size 96?

I was musing the "does size matter?" issue when another occurred to me... size's relation to frequency. Would a blown up plate of spaghetti bolognese extinguish my craving for it forever? And if "I am what I am... 'cause I eats my spinach" as Popeye the Sailor might say, or, put differently, if "you is whatcha eat" size wise, certainly, but, more to the point, in terms of national and sexual choice and identity, then who are you and I?

Madame Bayaz, in all her wisdom, is determined to have you find out. Indulge that sexo-culinary self this month and eat that carefully selected aphrodisiac... Then you'll know you.

Mme Bayaz

Farvardin: Aries

Celebrate Naw Ruz (Persian New Year) at the bazaar in Shiraz with a big bowl of bastani-e gol-o bolbol, a rose scented saffron ice-cream served with slivered pistachios. Let the sweet taste of the cream melt on your palate and then follow the scent of your Leyli. My dear Majnun, love, LOVE, is in the air. So, indulge!

Ordibehesht: Taurus

When Madame Bayaz gave away her frequent flyer miles to a friend so she could go to Austin for her dad's 70th birthday, the friend brought her back an unexpected gift that is your aphrodisiac this month. Do everything in your power to get hold of a morabaa-ye gol-e sorkh, a fresh rose petal jelly made with sugar and slivered pistachios. It's all systems go and time to have that baby! Can you see us all dancing, gherring and snapping our fingers in joyous celebration?

Khordad: Gemini

I'm thinking you're angling for some zereshk-polo, that is, some barberry rice and chicken this Persian New Year. Not necessarily because it's the right thing to have for the occasion, but because you're going to be stubborn as usual and do what no one else does. My effort here is to bring you as close to tradition as possible, none-the-less, and keep you out of trouble. You know how to make it, right? Just remember to clean and soak the barberries (zereshk) so you don't get in trouble for breaking your guests' teeth with the tiny stones that hide between them. Have your zereshk-polo and nooshe jaan! We'll overlook that misstep again this year.

Tir: Cancer

Despite the festive ambience that envelops the air around you this Naw Ruz, you will come to the realization that sticking close to the takhteh nard* is your kind of gig. But your selection of aajil will give the real sentiments away. By the 21st you'll be nibbling your mix of aajil-e moshgel goshaa (the Persian dried fruit and nut mixture to celebrate the unraveling of problems) in the middle of the afternoon: hazelnuts, currants, apricots and almonds, a watermelon seed or two, just to keep those teeth and fingers busy and grateful. Congratulations! Isn't that a relief?

Mordad: Leo

What do you think of sautéed brains? Nah? But maybe with a few helpings of peeled garlic, bread crumbs and balsamic vinegar, served with some salad and fresh herbs, you'll be able to swallow it down? Maybe? You need some, Leo, honey and you know it! The next few months will be demanding on your brain and on your strength. Eat some maghz and be confident that the world will continue to follow your lead whereever you may decide to go. Oh, and Madame Bayaz says, "No lovin' for you! We want no distractions!"

Amazon Honor SystemShahrivar: Virgo

Madame Bayaz recommends plenty, that is plenty, of ghahveh and halvaa: No, nothing terribly desirable, culturally, and indeed, often a combination of food and drink served at Persian wakes. There, you're absolutely right... but the combination of Turkish coffee and saffron brownie made with lots of butter, rose water and cardamom, will keep you awake so you can do all the thousands of things you want to catch up on, as the spring brings on the New Year: house cleaning for one... and the blossoming of a new love. My bets are down on the latter matter!

Mehr: Libra

Madame Bayaz is thinking that you should peel anything peelable, this month, Libra. Especially a ripe, time consuming, pomegranate (anaar) or... let's say four. Make a pomegranate jello served with slivered green pistachios. It'll match the gold fish on your sofreh-ye halft-sinn.* Then I recommend that you make your way over to Scorpio's for dinner.

Aban: Scorpio

Madame Bayaz sees you whimpering for a Libra again, Scorpi darling. So, whimper on, by preparing to make a koreshte fesenjoon (pomegranate stew) with Libra's pomegranates. Start shelling walnuts, three pounds worth, and then skin and clean the chicken. Once you get to the onions, you'll catch a glimpse of that Libra through the tears. Yes, that's right! Libra's been busy peeling, too. By Naw Ruz, you two will be cooking! All others... ahm... may I ask you to please step outside?!

Azar: Sagittarius

Madame Bayaz is thinking ... rose water for you, Sag darling. Rose water for those tired eyes. Two cotton balls soaked in chilled golaab on each eye as you lay yourself back and relax that tired, always active body and sip a steaming glass of sugared cha'i.* I wish I knew how to help you block all the noise inside your head. But alas you'll always insist on moving even when your body caves.

Dey: Capricorn

It's out of season, but who cares? You have every food season stored up in tupper ware in that freezer, don't you? Time to get out the sour cherries, buddy. We're making aalbaalu polo. I'll sliver some almonds while you cook the chicken. We'll have sour cherries and rice to celebrate yet another lonely, lonely year. What else can you do when you're still dreaming... dreaming forever of Christy Brinkley. Maybe it's time to downsize, huh? Yes, I think that might help.

Bahman: Aquarius

You're simply not identifying with all that tradition. It is the New Year and the chickpea and rice cookies are being passed around. Thanks, but no baklava for you. But, hey, you can ask for the leftover chocolate in the fridge. I'm thinking dark chocolate and roses too! Always dancing to your own tune, aren't you? Hey! Don't touch that Almond Joy, that's mine!!

Esfand: Pisces

Sholeh zard or saffron pudding with rose water, cardamom, slivered almonds and pistachios is generally associated with religious ceremonies. But since you've gone secular within the national, Naw Ruz is, I suppose, your "religious" holiday of choice. Invite your friends over and start stirring the sweet stuff. The rest of us will be there to top it off with cinnamon and rose petals by sunset. Have a joyous one!

To contact Madame Bayaz write to:

Some useful terms

-- Halft-sinn: The traditional Naw Ruz or Persian New Year table of seven dishes, each one beginning with the Persian letter sinn.
-- Cha'i: Steaming hot tea
-- Takhteh nard: Backgammon
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