When Food is Love

3f7cd590d1a105e6c9dce6659ec61833Nowruz (literally “new day”) is also known as the Persian New Year. It is the day of the vernal equinox, and marks the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere.

It usually occurs on March 21 or the previous/following day, depending on where it is observed.

The moment the sun crosses the celestial equator and equalizes night and day is calculated exactly every year.

Today at 3:28 a.m. Pacific Time, the vernal equinox, occurred.

Once again, night and day stand in perfect balance.

Sometimes, people enter our lives, who help us stand in balance. One such person entered our lives last fall.

Three weeks after my mastectomy in September, Bill received an email from Sarvi, who was a student in his UCLA cinematography class eight years ago. She told him she wanted to cook dinner for us. That evening, she arrived with her helper – her young daughter – carrying a wooden crate. Inside the crate was a pot of soup and a bowl of salad. Adornments for the salad were in small containers. Her daughter carried a sourdough baguette. Until February, Sarvi made dinner for us once a week. Her dinners were not only delicious, but they gave Bill (who was juggling work, cooking, and nursing me) a vacation. Each time Sarvi delivered dinner, I could see Bill relax by the second bite. Even though I have been back in the kitchen cooking for a few months now, I still receive an email from Sarvi with a subject line that reads “Farmers Market,” “New Recipe,” or “Menu.” Her “love letters” (which I call her cooking) have nourished more than our bodies. Sarvi is Iranian-American and when she first began delivering her dinners to us, she would say with a beautiful twinkle in her eye, “This is how Persians show their love.”

Here then are three of Sarvi’s missives: one from last week. One from October. And another from early March.

food deliverySent: Wednesday, March 15, 2017 6:20 PM

To: Pamela Beere Briggs

Subject: menu

Hello hello!

In response to what the farmer’s market and Santa Monica Seafood had that looked nice, I have made some changes to the menu I sent earlier that I hope you will enjoy. There was a beautiful heap of petrale sole which is wonderful dredged in panko crumbs, and there were so many fresh herbs at the market that I made a ‘kuku sabzi’ — a Persian new year dish I’ve seen lots of lately, loads of herbs held together with a few fresh farm eggs, and since I had some marcona almonds and barberries (another Persian ingredient — small tart dried berries a bit like dried cranberries in flavor) I added those as well. I’m working on the saffron rice right now but I forgot to presoak my rice so I’m not yet confident about the ETA. Hopefully not too much longer. The late sun keeps fooling me into thinking it’s earlier than it really is.

If you like white wine and have a dry one, chill it now, it’ll be nice with this dinner.

xoxo

S

food on plate

Sent: Saturday, October 8, 2016 1:05 PM
To: Pamela Beere Briggs

I will plan to come by Monday at 3pm to deliver a kabocha squash soup with lime crème fraîche and crispy shallots, and some wild yeast bread from Lodge bakery. If anything in that list is unsuitable, I can easily make substitutions. I’ll put the fixins on the side and take it easy with salt & spice so you can add them to suit your palate. Please know that in addition to a little ginger, cumin, white pepper, and shichimi togarashi, the soup is full of all my love and care for wonderful people who I hold in very high esteem. xoxo S

On Mon, Oct 10, 2016 at 6:01 PM, Pamela Beere Briggs wrote:

Dear Sarvi,

We both feel so nourished after having big bowls of your amazing soup with generous sprinklings of onion and pumpkin seeds and dollops of creme fraiche. We dunked the bread in the soup and let it soften and it soaked up such a heavenly combination of flavors. Thank you so much. Please know that your special delivery was a godsend on this day of too many appointments. I am now going to take a little rest with a smile on my face.

Love,

Pamela

16640527_10212546519124789_3458141989755088973_n

Sent: Wednesday, March 8, 2017 7:55 AM
To: Pamela Beere Briggs
Subject: Market visit

Dear Pamela,

I miss you! It feels very long since I’ve cooked at all, and I miss the nice chat that goes with cooking and planning. I’m going to the farmer’s market today and was wondering if you wanted me to pick anything up for you, and whether tonight would be good for a delivery. xoxo S

On Wed, Mar 8, 2017 at 9:28 AM, Pamela Beere Briggs wrote:

Dear Sarvi,

I have realized that you turn cooking into a love letter. If you find you are inspired at the farmer’s market and want to cook, we always love receiving one of your love letters .

Sent: Wednesday, March 8, 2017 12:55 PM

To: Pamela Beere Briggs

Subject: Re: Market visit

Dear Pamela,

At the market today I found an odd mix of things, some herbs, some veggies, but what I think it suggests to me is roasted sweet potatoes with lime creme fraiche alongside a sausage frittata, with a bowl of fresh strawberries for dessert. I always want to incorporate strawberries with cream or cake and in the end I always eat so many straight from the bowl — maybe it is time to stop trying so hard and just let berries be berries.

xoxo

S

Dearest Sarvi,

That was the most delicious combination of flavors ever!!!!!! One reads about such meals in a travel article written by someone who loves food who goes to a tiny village somewhere and nearly doesn’t come home because the food is so healing! Love, Pamela

 

81CSJNe66nLHere is a book I used to read to Natalie when she was little. We loved the story about the feast of love that lands on Lucy’s table, when she is sick with the chicken pox. The book is still in print. “Mama Provi and her granddaughter Lucy live in the same tall apartment building – Mama Provi on the first floor, Lucy on the eighth. When Lucy has the chicken pox and can’t come down to visit, Mama Provi decides to make a trip upstairs with a big pot of her tasty arroz con pollo. But on her way up the seven flights of stairs, she meets a neighbor on every floor. En un dos por tres (in Spanish this means “lickedy-split”), the chicken and rice are joined by Mrs. Landers’s crusty white bread, Señor Rivera’s frijoles negros, Mrs. Woo’s tea, and more. . . and Mama Provi arrives at Lucy’s door with a tremendous feast.”

I am tempted to write a book titled Sarvi’s Love Letters.

 

 

 

 

 

2 comments to When Food is Love

  • Carolyn Goodart

    Dear Pamela, I can see the beginnings of a lovely cookbook out of these messages and delicious food offerings. Food preparation can be an art form! Hope you are feeling well and enjoying your refurbished kitchen! Love, Carolyn

  • sue mitchell

    Yes…a book that shares a recipe/ love letter for 52 weeks… :)!! This story is so sweet…makes my heart feel good during a time when there is so much going on in Washington that is so disturbing..xo

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