The No Ruz (New Year) holidays were the perfect opportunity to visit my extended family in Tabriz. Although my immediate uncles and cousins are from Tehran the family is originally from Azerbaijan (not to be confused with the country of the same name, which traditionalist Azeris claim has stolen their identity). I love going up there as I get swamped in various second and third cousins numerous times removed, all laughing, smiling, joking. I don't get much of what's going on as everyone is speaking Turkish (Azeri) and I understand very little of what's going on, although pertinent exchanges get translated into Farsi for me. Not that it matters much as my main preoccupation is trying not to burst from all the baghlava, dried fruit and nuts, kebabs, sweets, rice and dolme that is coming from all angles as I'm carted from one family get-together to another. Luckily I do know how to say yemiram (I can't eat) to counter the insistent cries of ye! ye! (eat! eat!) of Azeri matrons for whom hospitality is second nature.
Typical Iranian picnic: park car by side of the road, unload boot, grill kebabs right there.