Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Calgary: Stephen Avenue & Stampede

Stephen avenue is one of the popular areas of Calgary at the time of Stampede festival. One can find cowboy hats, buckles, belts, etc. being sold by street merchants as well as many bars and restaurants decorated according to western traditions.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Erhu 二胡

Chinatown in downtown San Francisco has certain characteristics that makes it unique in my opinion. It consists of two parts. The main street, which is mostly geared towards attracting tourists, and back alleys, which are very different than the main street. Although this place is known as the Chinatown, I found Sunset district (a district located in the west part of SF) to have a huge Chinese population without being geared towards tourists. As a results if you want to see people performing or things that generally attracts tourists, you should go to the downtown Chinatown. However, if you want to go to a nice Chinese bakery, you should go to the Sunset district. Once in a while, in the evenings, when shops are closing in downtown Chinatown, you hear traditional Chinese music and you see musicians either as solo artists, or as a band performing the music of the far east. And, the sound of Erhu is always mesmerizing.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Fading Iranian Street Food: Fava Beans & Golpar (Persian Hogweed)

Each country has its own signature street foods, and each street food can give us clues about that country's taste, agriculture, weather, and much more. While growing up in Iran there were always street food vendors with carts in front of our schools and school children were always loyal customers of this business. There was no hotdogs, or burgers. Most common street foods at that time (1980s and 1990s) in Iran were cooked Fava beans (or Broad beans) (باقالی), steamed beets (لبو), boiled turnips (شلغم), and fire roasted corn (بلال). As you are probably thinking, the street foods were very healthy at that time. Unfortunately in recent years you see less and less of these type of food carts. This trend of healthy street food is largely vanishing and is being replaced by more processed food. I was surprised to see a cart selling Fava beans near the old Bazaar (market place) of Hamedan.

Whether you eat Fava beans at an Iranian home or on street it usually contains cooked Fava beans, golpar (گلپر), and salt. Golpar or Persian Hogweed is a plant native to Iran which has also been sighted in Norway and Sweden. It is aromatic and it is used in ground form for Fava beans. So in the above photo the brown power on the beans is golpar. I am sure this plant grows in other middle eastern countries that have somehow similar climate to Iran.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A Taste of Istanbul

Donair kebab & hungry cat. Istanbul, Turkey. Historically donair kebabs were used to be horizontally placed over fire. But nowadays they are vertically placed and slowly cooked.

There are so many stray cats and dogs on the streets of Istanbul. Compared to Tehran, cats are less scared of people in Istanbul.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Nagar Kirtan: Parade of the Sikh Community in Edmonton

According to the Sikh Encyclopedia "The word "Nagar" means "town or neighbourhood," and "Kirtan" is a term describing the singing of Shabads (divine hymns). The term refers to the possession of Sikh Sangat (Congregation) through the town singing holy hymns".

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Bazaar in an Ancient City - Kermanshah

The colorful traditional market place of Kermanshah in western Iran. This place is known to outsiders and some residents as "The Kurdish Bazaar". You can find many things including but not limited to Kurdish traditional clothing, fabrics and ornaments, handmade leather hunting equipment, carpets, spices, and even Boswellia resin that is a traditional natural chewing gum. The current building of this market place is around 200 years old but the market itself is way older. This city according to wikipedia was "one of the cradles of prehistoric cultures such as Neolithic villages" dating back to 10,000 years ago.

A bazaar is a market: and originates from the Middle Persian word Vāzār; a permanent enclosed merchandising area, marketplace, or street of shops where goods and services are exchanged or sold. Souq is another word used in the Middle East for an open-air marketplace or commercial quarter. -- Wikipedia.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Street Food in Istanbul: Fire Roasted Chestnut

Fire roasted chestnut is one of the few common street food you can find on the streets of Istanbul. Other street foods include Simit (a type of bagel), corn, and mussels with lime. I took this photo on Istiklal Caddesi (meaning Independence Street) near Taksim square in Istanbul, Turkey. Among these street foods, mussel sellers are almost always escaping the camera. I will post some photos of mussels later. For now, you can roast some chestnuts at home on fire. It is a tasty and healthy snack.