THE JUICE OF UNRIPE GRAPES

See how something which is so humble, so mundane, so ordinary in the Iranian kitchen sounds so weird and random in English? Did you know, Gentle Reader, that the juice of unripe grapes is a mainstay of Persian cuisine, which generally tends towards sour, rather than sweet or spicy or hot?

Ah-imagine this: bunches and bunches of unripe grapes, bright lime green in colour, being crushed in some nameless device my father has treasured from a hundred years ago, with a metal handle he turns round and round. The juice pours out of one end, no longer lime green, but a dusky orange-brown. This, Gentle Reader, is ab-ghooreh, the juice of unripe grapes. Milder than vinegar, more interesting than lemon juice, it used for salad dressings, in stews, and to make amazing sorts of pickles with eggplants and things.

I, of course, not having inherited my father’s dedication to the home-made, bought the factory stuff. Or not. I was never actually a huge ab-ghooreh fan, unlike my mother, who is known to drink gallons of it until she gets dizzy and has to be carried to bed, pale as a sheet, or as we say in farsi, as chalk. The plaster of the wall, to be precise. In the years that I was the mistress of my own kitchen in Tehran, and these following where I command this galley here in the stormy seas of Halifax, I never thought much about ab-ghooreh.
Until a few days ago, when the word was mentioned in casual conversation- I cannot even remember where or when- and oh, Gentle Reader, may you never experience such cravings. I have been notoriously pregnant twice, and I never had such pangs which I had now, for the juice of unripe grapes. Such are the tricks our memory and brain and longings play on us.
The tiny local Persian restaurant came to my aid: a bottle of ab-ghooreh was procured, and my obsessive ab-ghooreh celebrations began.

Every night for three nights I would make a giant bowl of green salad, and pour the sour nectar in. I would add a splash a apple cider vinegar for some kick, olive oil, salt, and that was it. I was in ab-ghooreh heaven.

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