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Seeds From Sabzevar

Upon returning from their home near Sabzevar in the spring of 1973, friends of our family gave us several large tins full of pistachios grown in that region of northeastern Iran. A cashew addict since first taste of that wonderful seed, I was hooked on these little cousin seed meats just a quickly, and permanently. Until then, I had never eaten any but I think I do remember seeing them in vending machines at O'Hare International at some point in the early 70s, probably as we were departing the USA to go live in Tehran.

Those were died red, probably imported from Syria by a chap named Zaloom. The pistachios our friends brought back to Tehran for us to enjoy were not. Within no time we had finished off the first tin, but there were plenty more of them and we had not eaten them all before returning to the USA that summer. So we stuffed the remaining tins at the bottom of duffle bags my brothers and I hauled around the other side of the planet on the journey home to share with friends and family there. They were a hit with everyone and soon there were a few pistachio shells from Sabzevar scattered around the yard surrounding my grandparent's house. A local named David Harris frequently walked by their house and I watched him stop and pick up one of the discarded shell halves, scratching his head in wonderment at what it might have come from. He looked at my grandmother's mimosa tree and shook his head, sure it hadn't come from that tree. Then he looked at the old cedars flanking the walkway up to the front porch and again shook his head. The only things dropping from those were their pale blue berries and bagworms. David put the shell half in his pocket and continued his walk on up Route 66 to the Stop-n-Shop at the north end of the block. By then, we had finished off the pistachios we brought back from Iran. I wished I had saved some for David.


Upheaval in Iran this past month as regular folks there protest the cruelty of their theocratic government for killing a woman guilty of nothing more than not wearing her hijab per religious regulations set me to wondering about the fate of our friends from Sabzevar. We heard they had returned there after we left Tehran. I hope they are all alive and unharmed.

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