Moji’s Recipe for Love (2)

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May 14, 2008

Ah! Aunt Blanche’s cream puffs! They were incontestably the best in the world. Restaurant and hotel owners placed their orders for all their great parties. Proud of her delights, Aunt Blanche remained modest, but with a little smile that did not fool anyone.

Maryvonne Griat, Si recettes m’etaient contees (Translation from French).

“Hello, mon p’tit chou!” was Grandma Mahrokh’s first words to me in the airport. These would be the same words I would hear from Mamie Mah, as we call her, every morning for the next two years upon opening my eyes.

Thanks to her, my rudimentary French has been improving. For the first two weeks of her arrival, I did not dare ask her why she was calling me her cabbage. Then, when I finally got the courage, she chuckled and said:

— “Mais nooooooon, I mean mon p’tit chou a la crème!”

— “Uhhhh? Like… the pastry?”

— “Areh, Noon-e-Khameyyi-e khodemoon-e digg-e.”

I blushed deeply. Had I gotten so fat that she immediately thought of a cream puff when she saw me? But unlike my mom, Mamie Mah was never judgmental with me. Mamie Mah could not be farther from my mom in terms of looks, personality, interests etc. It’s a wonder my mom came out of her womb. Even Mamie Mah admits, when pressed by me of course, that my mother was always… well… one basket short of a picnic.

— “Just like her father, God rest his soul.” She often adds, sighing.

In the great (cough cough) Iranian tradition, Mamie Mah was married at the old maid age of twenty to one of her cousins. The reason she escaped such a fate for so long was she was born with one leg a bit shorter than the other and so had to walk around with a cane for all her life, making all the would-be suitors magically vanish on sight.

She loved it because this meant she could continue living in the comfort of her home, getting tutored in the various subjects she was interested in and spending her time reading Pascal in bed til the wee hours of the morning instead of tending to the kitchen and screaming babies.

As the years went by, Mamie Mah’s father kept upping the ante in terms of the dowry so that finally, the prospect of the money attracted this one distant cousin Farrokh, a poor relation from some obscure small town.

The marriage was a spectacular failure. Farrokh’s idea of a good time was a satisfying burp after a heavy meal of khoresht and rice. Mamie Mah ate like a bird and kept her appetite intact in order to devour the mounds of books she would order regularly from the Librairie Hachette. That being said, they made seven children in eight years. Imagine if they HAD gotten along?!!! Jeeeezzzzz.

Fortunately for Mamie Mah, Farrokh died in a freak accident in year nine. Mamie Mah wasted no time. Within months, she had remarried with Jean-Baptiste, the Frenchman who had tutored her during her teens. Faster than you can say VOILA, she relocated the entire brood of seven kids to Paris, France. Then, two years ago, my mom called her in a panic:

— “Maman! Mojgan has gotten fat!” My crazy mom screamed in the phone with the same palpable horror as if she had to announce I had become a prostitute.

Mamie Mah talked to me for a bit over the phone and next thing you know, we were picking her up at the airport. She has been staying with us ever since. Thanks to her, I have shed the pounds I had gained and I am now back to my old size. But it wasn’t through diet or even exercise. I’ll tell you her secret next time.

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