Thursday, June 30, 2011


I got my hair cut this morning.  I love my stylist--Mahin came to the United States from Iran in the 1970's, and she's led the most interesting life.  She always has a story or two that's guaranteed to make me grateful for the relatively cushy life I've led.  She went from being a nurse to being a hair stylist when she came to the United States.  "People say 'That's like going from being a doctor to being a garbage man," she told me once.  "I tell them, 'People appreciate it when you take away the garbage.  People appreciate it when you cut the hair.  People don't appreciate it when you tell them 'Lay down in the bed and take your medicine.'"

Last month, Mahin went back to Iran to visit her family.  She called me--and all her other clients--before she left the country, presumably so she wouldn't interrupt our lives by taking a vacation.  (Last fall, she refused to be admitted to the hospital for exactly the same reason--"I told the doctor, I have appointments!  People depend on me to do my job!")  Today, I met the woman who was Mahin's last customer before she left the country: at 8:30 the night before she took a long international flight, Mahin was styling the hair of a woman who was about to be admitted to a rehab hospital following a stroke.  "I looked like a stray dog," the woman said, and Mahin laughed.  "You did not look like the dog," she said.  "But you did look better after I cut and colored your hair.  And you feel better when you look good.  Right?"  This is a woman who really respects the power of a good hair day. 

Today, after my haircut, while I was writing her a check, Mahin handed me a bag of pistachios and some candy, both of which she'd brought with her from Iran.  "This candy we call gaz," she said.

"Gas?" I asked.  (That's what it sounded like.)

"Not gas, like you put the gas in the car.  Gaz.  It says right here on the wrapper."   She turned over one of the pieces of candy.  "Well, it's in Farsi.  But it says gaz."

I didn't try to repeat the word, because I still wasn't hearing a difference between the two, but I thanked her and hugged her and went on my merry way with my bag of treats.  I decided to wait until I got home to try the gaz, since I wasn't sure what I was getting into.

But, as it happens, gaz is quite delicious.  It's a very sticky, nougat-like candy studded with large pieces of pistachio.  I thought I was tasting some sort of citrus flavor, too, but an online search for a gaz recipe revealed that this taste was most likely rosewater.  No surprise that I misjudged it because, as far as I know, I'd never tasted rosewater before that moment.

I'll have to think of something special to do with the pistachios--who knows, maybe I'll try to make my own batch of gaz.  For now, though, I'm just going to savor what's left and count myself lucky for having received the gift of a person like Mahin in my life. 


Robin said...

Rosewater adds a lovely flavor. Since you like the candy, you should try some Persian ice cream, an amazing blend of saffron, rose water and pistachios. I make it at least once a year.

Pam said...

That sounds delicious! The kids are not big fans of the pistachios (nor is The Hubs), but I bet they'd try them in ice cream.

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