Growing up With Mamanjoon


Through the filter of many years, I can still recall images of my grandmother’s garden in Tehran. As a child I was seduced by the invigorating scent of jasmine as I climbed down the big granite stairs and ducked under the arbor with its tangle of drooping grapes to find my way to her pond with its scampering goldfish. My brother and I would reverently enter the cellar through its garden door. It was our “treasure room,” and was filled with the aroma of the old and the new. Though dark, we could see the trunks and big glass jars full of all sorts of mysterious potions.

Each year before the start of autumn and summer my grandmother would gather a group of women in the garden to peel tomatoes, clean grapes, and chop up an abundance of flowers, fruits and herbs. Their efforts would produce all sorts of purees, pickles and jams to be stored away for winter.

Mamanjoon seemed to always be in the midst of brewing a secret tincture, colorful tea, murky oil, or funny gelling paste that would be administered as soon as someone in the family, friend or neighbor came down with a cough or other ailment. Besides her homespun medical knowledge, she also held in her treasure trove of healing salves secrets to a youthful complexion and everlasting beauty. Mamanjoon, herself, everyday drank a cleansing water and lemon infusion first thing in the morning and a tea brewed from turmeric root and sweetened with honey and lemon, throughout the day. She lived till she was 102.

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