Fruits...The Persian Perspective

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ne of the things I love about my Farsi professor is that one second, he will be so serious as he’s explaining something and then a second later he’ll start telling us some funny joke or story from Iran. Today we were learning how to say and write the names of different fruits. Along with our vocab lesson we received some interesting and hilarious (or at least I thought so) comments on some of the fruits’ history in Iran.

For fun I listed the fruits’ name in English, Finnglish (Farsi written out phonetically in English) and Persian script (which, I am proud to say, I typed out myself on my newly installed Persian keyboard) and the little stories that I learned about each fruit from both my Farsi professor and Omid.

Bananas – moz –  موز

So I didn’t know this, but bananas don’t grow in Iran (I never claimed to know anything about agriculture or climate or geography…). So the bananas had to be imported. About 50-60 years ago they were very rare and usually only something wealthier people would have. On one occasion while my professor was still in Iran teaching for an elementary school they served whole bananas to the kids for their afternoon snack. A few days later, the school received reports from some of the parents that their kids had been having stomach pain after eating the bananas. They later found out that because the children were unfamiliar with the fruit and how to consume it, they had actually eaten the entire thing, skin and all! As bad as I felt for the children, I still laughed so hard when he told us the story.

He then went on to say they are very useful in marriages: for example, if your husband is ever bothering you just place a banana peel under his foot when he’s walking by! So he probably wouldn’t make the best marriage counselor, but it was still funny.

Cucumber- Khiar – خیار

So when the professor asked us, “Do you know what khiar is good for,” in my head I was thinking this meant apricots, so I proudly answered, “Jam!” and everyone immediately looked at me and someone was like, “cucumber jam?” yeah…let’s just assume that will be the first of many mistakes on my quest to learn Farsi.

Pear – Gholabi –  گلابی

So my fiancé, Omid, was telling me that when someone is acting a bit stupid they’ll call them a gholabi. I laughed and asked, “Why would you call someone whose being dumb a pear?” and He said, “Because a pear is shaped so weird, so when you call someone a gholabi it’s like saying you’re being so weird.”

Peach – Hulu – هلو

So you know how when you see a girl with a nice booty and you go, “Wow, look at those peaches!” Yeah…I don’t do that either….well Persians use this lovely fruit in a similar way. When they see a pretty lady walking by they might say, “Ajab huluy eh” Now, roughly translated, this means, “What a nice piece of peach,” or in other words, “What a beautiful woman!” So if you know me and I ever call you hulu, you can take it as a compliment 😉

White berries – toot sefid –   توت سفید

In older days they said that white berries, because of their delectable flavor, were a fruit from God and therefore couldn’t be sold anywhere but rather given freely to everyone. So, it was common practice for people to plant these white berry bushes in front of their homes so that anyone walking by could eat them as they passed.

When I came home and was telling my fiancé, Omid, about these stories he immediately lit up and started telling me about how good the white berries were. He said in the Spring, when they were in the middle of finals for high school, the berries would be covering the bushes. Because many of the plants were years old they would be as tall as trees and as soon as they finished their finals for the day they were run out of school, climb the trees and eat as many berries as they physically could.

I don’t know about you, but I love hearing little stories like this. It just draws you into another world, another reality that someone else is living right now. It takes me out of my little California world for a second and reminds me that there are other people who are just as happy as I am, but living life in a completely different way.

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