Saturday, August 10, 2013

Rich summer...

I have mentioned many times here that we are blessed with rich and fertile land in Azerbaijan. This summer when I found myself in different gardens of Absheron and Sheki I took random pictures that I want to share with you. Hope you enjoy. 

we love mulberry early summer... 
and cherry...
we do mürəbbə (preserve/jam) from many, many fruits including cherry...(adding nuts to mürəbbə makes tea ceremony even more delicious)  
 we love to drink tea with lemon...we love lemon in general...its good for those who have high blood pressure...we are southern people...our emotions are strong...and heartbeat is quick :) I took this photo in Sheki bazaar this summer... 
talking about nuts...being busy cleaning and eating fresh nuts is another pleasure...
sunflowers on the way to Sheki...lovely scenery that I am afraid I couldn't convey...lovely to eat sunflower seeds when they are ready if you are not afraid to ruin your nails :) 
flowers in "Officers'" park in Baku...expecting more parks in the capital and regions in the coming years...hoping for more trees, grass and flowers...
flowers in our garden in Absheron...don't last long...grateful for every flower and every day that they last...
children playing at the boulevard...Azerbaijan is a young country...children and young people  anywhere you go...youth is in the air :) 

talking about and ducklings in the park in Sheki...
Be well...

Sunday, August 04, 2013

People behind the scenes...III...

Today I will continue writing about one of my favorite subjects: about people behind the scenes.

This summer I have done photos of some people in Sheki that I want to share with you.

I will start with Bakhtiyar dayı (dayı-uncle in Azerbaijani). Let me first tell you that its quite common to call each other sister, brother, uncle, aunt, granny, grandfather, daughter, son in Azerbaijan...People that are not relatives address this way to show respect to people that they know quite well and/or to kind of soften their conversation with a stranger. Do not forget that this is Orient and many things are not just straightforward. 

So Bakhtiyar dayı (who is obviously not my uncle) is the gardener that is specializing in mowing the grass in the gardens. Despite his quite respectful age of around 70 Bakhtiyar dayı is full of energy. He is very respected first of all for his age and even more so for his hard work and positive attitude towards life. In summer one would find him very popular working in different gardens. He is showing so much energy while working that one would be ashamed to suggest that he could be tired or too aged (can not say old) to do this kind of work. Unfortunately my photo is not good and you can't really see Bakhtiyar dayı. I should have done a portrait since expression of his face would have told much more. Next summer...

Things seem much bigger in the childhood. I used to call my granny's garden forest when I was little. Bakhtiyar dayı working in my granny's forest. 
Once the grass is mowed it dries under the sun and once dry someone comes and takes it for their livestock. Someone took it this time as well. There are no phone calls, emails, confirmations and schedules...someone knocks on your gates and says "Bakhtiyar dayi sent me for grass" and you say "yes, please, go ahead". You don't call Bakhtiyar dayi, you don't check the identity. You are in Sheki. You feel safe. You expect people to be friendly. You can't imagine that it could be any different.  

Sometimes those who pick up your grass would bring you fresh milk in return as thank you gesture. Not this time  unfortunately :) 
I try to go to bazaar at least once when I am in Sheki. It is not as pretty and organized as it could be unfortunately but the atmosphere is still there. I like watching people and seeing what is available. My father is big cheese lover and every time he is in Sheki he goes to his favorite merchant and gets that special cheese. Not 100 grams but so that to treat families of his daughters and much more to enjoy back in Baku. He now introduced the merchant to my husband and this time we went to buy cheese for all. Unfortunately I don't know the merchan't name but when I saw him I discovered that this is very tall, I assume quite handsome in his youth man, with shiny blue eyes and very characteristic cap. As it happens quite often to me I get too shy in Sheki and here I was too shy to ask him if he could pose for me. He looked too serious but then later when I took these photos he looked at me and, either he was in a good mood or he was delighted to be photographed by young woman, he looked at me with such a beautiful smile that his eyes shined even more. I was very upset that I didn't take his photo at that very moment and kept whining about it to my spouse later. Again, hopefully next summer. 

P.S. Asked my father later why he never mentioned that his cheese merchant was such an "interesting" man. My father thought that it was a very strange question that did not need a reply. :) I wouldn't dare asking this question to my father 20 years ago :) 
Sorry for such a long post. Missed writing. My earlier posts on people behind the scenes can be read here and here

Saturday, August 03, 2013

About bread...

I am greeting you from Azerbaijan today after some silence. 

This post would be devoted to bread. 

Not sure if I wrote about this before but bread is one of the cherished or should I say "respected" if not the most "respected" product in Azerbaijan cuisine and culture. 

What does that imply? It means that e.g. if you are in Sheki then you would see that the first thing that is taken away from the table once lunch or dinner is over is bread. Bread is not supposed to be left on the table or around to dry. If one drops a piece of bread it must be picked up immediately. Some people would kiss it and put it on their eyes as ritual to show respect. We do not put old bread together with other waste but collect it separately so that it could be picked up by someone who would give it to his/her poultry (if thats in the region); if in Baku bread pieces would be collected separately. 

Bread has a notion of prosperity and abundance. Prosperity and abundance that it would bring to the family, household, land.

During our childhood we as girls would always help of course setting the table and clearing it after and would always hear older people reminding us that we should first take away bread. Hearing and seeing all this one grows with a "special feeling" to bread. Another thing is that childhood has memories of grannies that would be baking bread in təndir (tandoori) and this memory has also a fantastic smell of baked bread. I don't think I can explain that smell. And you all probably know it anyway. I think this is one of the things that every childhood should have. Memory of granny that is baking bread, smell of that bread, crisp of that bread and its beautiful taste. Taste that would stay with you forever. 

There is a story that I would be told about my late grandfather Mammadiyya; they say that he would buy bread and go home and on the way share the bread with many children playing around. Finally when he would reach home he would have seen that there wasn't much bread left. I guess my granny would be sure to have bread at home if she baked one of her own. :) 

With all these stories and memories I grew up with love to delicious bread. Nowadays when all talks are about calories and weight and since I am not also a teenager and calories do matter one always has a second thought before deciding to eat or not to eat. 

Well when its holiday and its Sheki and its təndir bread then the answer for me often is to eat. 

Around eight years ago I discovered bread culture of Germany and France for the first time and I must admit I enjoy their bread as much. 

Below pictures are of this summer: one taken in Azerbaijan, one in France. Its not only tasting the bread that I love but also going and getting fresh one in the morning or during the day...personally.

Wishing you prosperity, praying for those whose land is not in peace but war.

Salam, zəhmət olmasa bir dənə çörək verin. (Hello, one bread Azerbaijani)
Bonjour. Une baguette s'il vous plaît. (Hello, one bread French)
Talking about bread and not only in my earlier posts here and here