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I Want Passion Without Drama

There is a difference between passion and drama.

They might look the same at times, and they often go hand-in-hand: passionate lovemaking after a passionate argument, or passionate dancing followed by road rage on the way home. Nothing is perfect, but there’s a pretty clear balance in these instances: a yin and a yang, a good passion and a not so pleasant passion, which we call drama.

My life’s question has long been, How do I get more of Column A, and less of Column B? I want to go up, up, up, and never come back down. I want the celebratory procession without the battle that precedes it.

I want to win without having to try. I want passion without drama.

dramaIs this an attainable goal? I think in one way yes and in one way no. You can’t have a real celebration if you don’t have a triumph, even just the triumph of life itself, to galvanize the purpose. But at the same time, creating a problem just so it can be solved is a misdirection of energy, sometimes with grave consequences.

Let me begin with mine. Last year, I fell in love with a Peruvian girl. Well, she was hardly a girl at 31 and six and a half years older than me, but with time…

I found that her emotional maturity was definitely lagging behind her age.

When things started out, she cautioned me that she didn’t want anything serious. “I’m not trying to wife this b,” I thought to myself. “Who said anything about anything serious? Shit.”

This conversation was followed in the coming weeks by an apparent deterioration in her barrier against me and then, indeed, a night of longheld glances, delicate handholding, and, eventually, a deep kiss that led to — you guessed it — passionate lovemaking. Paola, and that is not her real name, laid her hands on me with such tenderness, and looked at me with such intensity, that by dawn I knew I had it made.

This was the passion.

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Alas, in no time, we were arguing forcefully about the stupidest things: a look I did or didn’t give her at the right or wrong moment during dinner; what time or day to get together; whether to have coffee or tea — at Starbucks. This was the drama.

It got worse and worse until I decided I had to leave her. More drama. Then we got back together: a little passion, but then a lot of drama. That lasted for about a week. And it’s how I arrived at this issue of balance: how to love without possessing, how to disagree without fighting, how to see without judging.

After giving my heart to Paola when I knew full well she wouldn’t know what to do with it, — she told me so, for Pete’s sake — it seems like drama might just be what happens when we let our passion run our lives, or when we let it take us too hard or too fast in one direction.

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I think of Paola rather often for how short and fraught our relationship was. On our last morning together, we kissed and said I love you like we always did before parting — but this time, because we knew it was the last, with a little more passion. We next saw each other by chance at a club, and let me tell you, that was drama. That was it for me, as I never called or saw her again; but inside my heart I bounced between those two extremes for months, watching the distance between them decrease a bit each time, until finally, now, or one day soon, I will look at the whole situation and just be, well, OK about it all.

Do you have any stories of old flames, loves that just wouldn’t work, or passion and drama?

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JULIE JOON جولی

Dating the Forbidden Fruit

As long as I can remember, my parents have told me that the guy I want to marry has to be successful, but really all Persian parents say that.

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When I got to college I was pretty done with putting effort into dating. Then of course when I least expected it, or really even wanted it, a boy came around who was a little crazy over me. I was (as most Iranian girls are) super stand-offish, I just didn’t really want to waste my time on some guy who didn’t fit my parents criteria, and more importantly MINE.

I basically interrogated this poor guy for a week, asking him everything from what his ambitions were to what his parent’s careers were-  they have to come from a good family right? Well turns out this guy wants to become a doctor, and to top it off his dad is a doctor, and to make matters even better-  he was such an extreme gentleman.

Yeah don’t worry something went real wrong real quick.

I’m an Iranian Bahá’i, and drum roll please… he was a half White half Egyptian Arab Muslim.

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Honestly was the universe trying to ruin my life?

Here is where it goes even further south, I’m not even religious. Around the age of 16 I just kind of figured out that this whole religion thing was not for me. I would attend Bahá’í gatherings for my grandmother’s sake, but really I was pretty disconnected from it all at that point. As I got even older I was completely over it! I have no strife with the Bahá’í Faith.

I actually think it’s pretty cool, but I just didn’t believe it in my heart or any other religion…

so I chose to stop faking it.

I wasn’t sure how I was going to break it to this guy that Arabs and Iranians have a not so good history, and Bahá’ís are being killed by Muslims as we speak. The icing on the cake was we left Iran because of religious persecution. You can only imagine how my parents were going to take the news. But what could I do? He is a genuinely amazing guy that happens to partake in Ramadan, and has Qurans around his house.

Well now I’m stuck…

I’m dating the forbidden fruit, for over a year to be exact.

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My parents like him, but they’re terrified for my future and rightfully so considering their experiences with Arabs and Muslims has been just about every synonym of AWFUL. But I love this guy, yeah I said love, but how many of our parents have married the people they love? They just picked a khastegar (suitor), not the love of their life.

It’s old school of me to say love doesn’t always triumph…

there are enough problems in marriage should our religion be one of them?

HELP OUR JOONIE OUT.

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What is failure?

I have had a mental timeline for my life (don’t laugh): I would graduate college at 21 (check), get my masters’ at 23, have a kick-ass career by 25 (and be financially stable), get engaged 26-27, get married 27-28, and have my first baby at 31.5. I know, I know. Ridiculous.

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Having goals is what motivates us. Let me clarify that marriage and children were not my most important goal. I just have had it imprinted in my brain that those things must come after stable career (I still do).

I have known what I’ve wanted to do for a living since I was a kid.

But I have also, like many people, had unrealistic expectations of how fast my goals should be achieved. Between having the lavish lives of young celebrities being shoved down our throats and parents praising Leily Khanoom’s nephew, who got a job on Wall Street upon graduation, there is a lot of pressure to look at our own direction and analyze how fast we’re going. Especially, if we haven’t chosen the doctor/lawyer/engineer route. The bar is constantly being raised just a little bit higher.

I’ve had this silly notion that if I haven’t made it by my mid-20’s, then that would mean “failure”.

But what is failure?

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It’s not being financially unstable. It’s not being unmarried. It’s giving up your dreams. It’s settling and being unhappy.  Everyone struggles in the beginning. Doctors have to go through years of med school and residency before they can be actual doctors. Lawyers have to win several cases in order to prove hirable. Managers always start out at the bottom of the company chain. Actors must live paycheck to paycheck for several years until they score a significant role. You get it. But over and over in my brain, I’ve still been freaking out. What if I can’t ever hold a stable career as an actress/screenwriter? Being a performer may not have an endpoint—it’s totally up to fate. What if I end up in destitute and my parents become ashamed of me and I stay husband-less and become a joke to the community and everyone else and—and— 

I’ve been visiting my hometown undergraduate college (where I also got accepted for graduate school) and all I can think to myself as I walk around is how much I don’t want to be returning there in the Fall. I’ve been so dead-set on finishing my education all at once, that I’m having a hard-time wrapping my head around taking off from school for a year or so and working until I get another chance at attending a graduate school for something that I do want. I told one of my good friends about going back to school for my “back-up” and she just looked at me as if I was crazy and said, “So what do you want to be? A degree-collector?”

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For the past few months, I’ve felt stuck between a rock and a hard place. Either go for it and risk failure (like, serious failure) or continue a path that I’m not really interested in. I am content with the fact that I might not get married until my 30’s. Maybe I won’t even have kids. And if I’m not successful by Persian or even American community standards by a specific age or even at all, so what?

I just need to muster up the courage to chase my dream.

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xoxo,

SARAH سارا

Relationships are like a Math Problem

Relationships can be fraught with all kinds of disagreements that fall on the spectrum from petty to apocalyptic, and frankly you need to have disagreements. But how can you fight like hell without it falling (entirely) to pieces?

*disclaimer: I am not a relationship therapist. Just sharing what’s worked for me.

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Treat your disagreements like a math problem by following these simple rules:

By being selfless.
By listening deeply.
By exhibiting empathy.

Selflessness: you may feel wronged in a situation, but it’s important to know exactly why and how the other person was wronged, too. By being selfless, you can objectively consider your own actions.

Suspend your ego for a moment.

Listen deeply: truly listen – let him/her finish a thought before you respond. Instead of countering with defensive language (though it isn’t easy at times), provide logical and objective reasoning for your action/s. Logic is key here. I do believe it’s important to own, experience, and defend our feelings. But you can defend/protect yourself without defensive language (including body language).

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Exhibit empathy: put yourself in your mate’s shoes. Once s/he has logically explained the thinking/reactionary patterns that created the emotional response, it’s easier to understand how exactly A+B=C for that person. And please, don’t insult.

In short…

Goal: treat sticky situations like a math problem and handle it with logic and patience to reach a solution.

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Now, none of this is to say if you try this method your problems will suddenly become cute little soap bubbles that require a simple pop to disappear- a fight can be gnarly as hell and leave some emotional residue, and require time to cool off/be alone before talking. And all of this takes emotional maturity, patience, and willingness. But, if you can give those things to one another, even the most painful confrontations can be handled with more dignity.

Do you agree with my methods? Are math problems the key to our relationship drama?

Cry it out,

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xo,

NASEEM نسیم

Iran: Unedited History

This summer, I was lucky enough to take a trip to Europe with my Baba joon. When we were in Paris, we kept seeing advertisements for the exhibition, IRAN: Unedited History.

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Curious, we decided to check it out at the Museum of Modern Art. The large gallery of drawings, pictures, film, posters, and artifacts is split into three sections: The era of Modernization (1960-1978), the Revolution and the Iran-Iraq War (1979-1988), and the Contemporary era (1989-2014).

The art hung on white walls. It was not at all crowded and eerily quiet.

People seemed to be too intrigued to comment.

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The only sounds came from Iranian movies that had been montaged into a five-screen presentation in one corner. Switching between scenes of a seductive, glamorous Persian film star, to crying and mourning from chadori women in the haram, and fight scenes between Persians and Mongolians, softly echoing throughout the deadly quiet gallery.

A Kurd family, most likely during the period of the Iran-Iraq war. Isn't the one on the left super-attractive?

A Kurd family, most likely during the period of the Iran-Iraq war. Isn’t the one on the left super-attractive?

After reading Iran’s timeline, which was written on the wall, we saw paintings by artists such as Bahman Mohassess.

Colorful posters from the Arts Festival in Shiraz hung above drawings and newspaper articles about events both good and bad.

The “prostitution gallery” by Kaveh Golestan, was a significant portion of the exhibition. Black-and-white photos of women, old and young, sitting in their rooms or on the streets. A video, which could be listened to with headphones, plays interviews with the women, revealing how they were tricked or sold into the terrible lives they lead—some of them have children.

Interestingly enough, the collection was donated by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance.

The Revolution period exhibited anti-Shah and pro-democracy posters next to a projection screen showing a slideshow of clips and photos of the 1979 protests and welcoming of Imam Khomeini.

Perhaps the hardest section of the exhibition to view was that of the Iran-Iraq War. Pictures and slideshows of destroyed cities, bodies spread across the dirt, facial shots of the dead, and helplessness in the eyes of those still alive, caused me to look away more than once, not just for how graphic it was, but also the sorrow reality that war-torn Iran had suffered.

An akhoond and his family - they're husbands and fathers, too - period of the Iran-Iraq war.

An akhoond and his family – they’re husbands and fathers, too – period of the Iran-Iraq war.

The last section of the exhibition was perhaps the most simple; weird and intriguing by contemporary Persian artists. A black-and-white slideshow of an Iranian inside the home. There was a backroom of tangible birds and black boxes of coal, perhaps used during the war. There were physical tombstones; one of them, unmarked.

At that moment, it strangely started to smell exactly like Iran.

the stand-up portraits of people holding heads) - Funky modern art by a contemporary artist.

the stand-up portraits of people holding heads) – Funky modern art by a contemporary artist.

The exhibition ended with a few political animations that took up the entire wall; most likely from the 2009 protests.

The last time I had felt this cold leaving a museum was when I had visited the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. The chilling reality of our culture’s history affected me; I was unable to keep the black-and-white photos of eyes of Iranians, both happy and despaired. There was something haunting about even the contemporary slideshow, which featured pictures from a wedding and in-house gatherings.

It was simply a history lesson to my generation, and a painful reminiscence to the generation of our parents.

This painting took up the entire wall. It was meant to symbolize contemporary issues in Iran and was one of the last stops at the exhibit.

This painting took up the entire wall. Symbolize contemporary issues in Iran and was one of the last stops at the exhibit.

The exhibition will be open in Paris until August 24th. Overall, it was an interesting and educational experience. Hopefully, it can be shown in the United States and other parts of the world. There is a lot of sympathy to be drawn and…

a lot to be learned about our people’s past.

SEXANDFESSENJOON@GMAIL.COM

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SARAH سارا

We Should All Celebrate Pride

There’s been this little thingie happening over the last month:

Pride.

Turkish, Kurdish and Armenian banners for freedom and love in Istanbul pride. Source:  @omerakpinar

Turkish, Kurdish and Armenian banners for freedom and love in Istanbul pride. Source: @omerakpinar

Once referred to as Gay Pride, chopping off that first word makes it more inclusive, and it’s only right since the parades and festivals have brought together people of every predilection and walk of life for years now, not just gay men.

Whatever you want to call it, it’s kept me busy with rainbow feather scarves and sun-soaked femmes galore, but today I’m much more clear-headed, my joons.

On the theme of Pride, the idea that I come to you with today is a kind of mantra:

“I am worthy, you are worthy.”

Don’t ask where it came from; do ask what it means.

Initially, Pride parades were an act of solidarity and resistance among gay and transgender men in an oppressive environment. In many places, the celebrations still fit this bill, as evidenced by the beating visited upon a Detroit man during his city’s Pride festival.

But in places where things have relaxed a little, a sense of worthiness prevails — so much so that some people don’t even feel the need to go to Pride celebrations: this was the first one I’ve gone to in a few years, myself.

But our fellows who face violence at their parades — or who can’t even safely be out at all, such as those in our very own Islamic Republic of Iran — are worthy of more than that.

Iranian LGBT group at Pride march in Istanbul via @TurkishIranian

Iranian LGBT group at Pride march in Istanbul via @TurkishIranian

I think it’s up to those of us who are lucky to do what we can to support our less fortunate fellows. Ultimately, it’s their journey toward peaceful coexistence with those who don’t understand them; but showing them that they are worthy of that is some of the best help we can offer them.

Worthiness is in all of us,

but I believe those who have embraced their own worth show it through humility, a sense of calm about them, and confidence — which is not the opposite of the first two qualities. Confidence to shine in your own skin is the ultimate display of worthiness: you KNOW you are a blessing to this world, and you rock it!

The author Marianne Williamson writes,

“It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.”

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I believe that joonies of all sexualities, gender identities, and walks of life can lose their fear or their light. Best of all, we can help each other to lose that fear. Here’s how: When I say that I am worthy, you say that you are worthy. Ready?

I am worthy.

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JULIE JOON جولی

 

Dear Dad: I Live With Depression

I live with depression. I do not have depression.

I live with my father who suffers from bipolar disorder.

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I am now 24 years old. I hadn’t lived with my dad since I was six, and my mother since I was 18. My father, who had a pseudo-presence in my childhood, has had bipolar disorder as far back as I can remember. It has greatly affected his physical and mental life.

About 14 months ago, my dad decided to quit Iran for good and move back to Canada. A few members of my family came and spoke with me about living with him, and how much it would help. I was doing a post-university internship, so the decision was easier. 14 months later, and I am still here.

I do not really have a way to verbalize and sum the way it feels to live with a manic depressive. You see the contrasting range of emotional feeling by the exact same personality on a consistent basis. You learn to semi-understand that periods of highs can be followed by periods of lows in a moment’s notice.

You live with frustration and admiration.

My father’s disorder has left him emotionally unstable and dependent. As a result, he lives a very unhealthy physical life. His diet is poor, he drinks too much and he smokes profusely – after bypass surgery. My father’s life has become cyclical in a worrying way. Fortunately or unfortunately, he has enough money to never work again, which means that he can forever support and maintain his lifestyle.

Worst of all, his life is without a motivating purpose.

The pressure I have felt in the past 14 months has been very unique to me. At times I feel like a weight is crushing my chest. Suffocating me to the point I cannot hear myself think.

Trying to help my dad leave the house when he’s been inside for five straight days is taxing. Seeing my dad doped up on anti-depressants is one of the most sorrowing feelings. Then, suddenly, hearing my dad’s boastful laugh feels like a dream.

It is tiring.

Conversely, watching my dad as he forces himself to shave, shower and leave the house in the middle of a depressed episode is one of the most encouraging feelings I get.

The stigma that depressed people are ashamed about themselves is authentic.

Years of living and learning about his own condition has not curbed his feelings of being a burden. Every passing year he understands himself better, but he rarely admits the hurt it puts on him. Still, I see his effort and even the smallest positive change puts a smile on both our faces.

It is inspiring.

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I cook and clean around the house, and run small errands. Most importantly, the hope is that my presence provides a positive energy and stability to his life. He has to adopt my sleeping hours, eat whatever vegetables I cook, and have someone push him about going out and being active.

I know that at times I cause more damage than good, however. I get frustrated when the depressed episodes go on too long. The pain of seeing someone suffer oddly manifests. I channel this frustration in unhealthy ways, and it causes friction in our relationship. It isn’t just down to pain, however, as some of it feels like resentment.

I get overwhelmed living with someone that can be manic and depressive in the same day.

People have told me it is great that I am living with my father. That I’m able to help someone deal with their bipolar depression.

Am I helping? Sometimes, I don’t think so.

I could be a lot less resistant and more sensitive. I feel I take one step forward and two back – when we are moving laterally, really. I don’t do it because people tell me what a great person I am. I don’t do it because I feel it is my responsibility. I don’t do it out of love. I’m not certain, but I feel the deep rooted reason I do it is that…

I’m too worried about the guilt of him dying if I’m not around.

And I don’t know how I feel about that.

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Peace,

NIMA نیما

I’m Graduating… Now What?

I am g-g-graduating! The feeling is insane as it’s just now starting to sink in. However, I haven’t felt this great this semester. Actually, it has been one of the most stressful periods of my college career because I’ve had to come to terms with what I really want to do with the rest of my life.

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My double-major is in Marketing and International Business and even though it’s interesting to me…

I’ve always dreamt of being an actress and a writer.

Ever since I was little, I’ve always loved performing, anything creative—acting, singing, dancing, writing, drawing, you name it. I loved being the center of attention (and still do, haha!). I am a firm believer in the notion that

you only live once, so you must attempt to do what you really love.

There’s just one little problem: My Persian parents don’t really support it… or at least they didn’t.

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I remember always having to fight until I was in tears to be allowed to audition for the school play, or tearfully accept that I couldn’t audition for productions at my ballet school. It wasn’t that my parents were against me performing, they love going to shows/movies and enjoy not just the Persian arts, but from around the world.

They just didn’t want me wasting my time.

They weren’t cool with 9-hour-a-week rehearsals that would only increase as it got closer to the performance dates. The spring shows at my ballet school were always at a time when I “should be focusing on the OGTs/ACTs/some kind of important exam,” so naturally, my free time was to be studying for those.

Yes, I understood that school always came first and that my parents didn’t just work hard coming to America for me to be unsuccessful. But when you have a passion, it cannot be avoided. I managed to squeeze my way into many productions: I performed in the Nutcracker every December and did a string of high school productions.

I also want to point out that it was my mom who took me to every dance/piano class, rehearsal, and often switched to “yes” with a little convincing. Now, she gets excited when I tell her about a new project that I’m working on.

Baba joon is harder to convince. When I entered college while living at home, I focused more on student films rather than theater. My dad’s concern became less about taking up too much time and more about content.

“Have you read de escript? You don’t know vat people vill do vith this video.” Or “I tink you should focus on business-related extracurricular instead.”

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Good thing I didn’t need a parent signature. I continued to perform whenever I had the chance (singing, film, theater—even a show completely in Farsi). Now I’m about to graduate, realizing that I know more people in Film and Communications majors than in Business. I’m at a huge crossroad in my life.

Do I continue on to graduate school? In Business or in Film? Do I get a job? Should I just go for it and get an agent?

Baba joon has now slowly begun to accept my passions and that regardless of whether not I make it, I always spend my free time pursuing artistic endeavors. Even if they never accept it, I still love my parents dearly and know that they only want what’s best for me. Education is a very important value, but we also cannot forget art.

My question is:

Have any of you ever experienced having a passion for something that your parents didn’t approve of? If so, how did you deal with it?

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xoxo,

SARAH سارا

Do It All For Love

I have an obsession, one that is not very easy to admit to without being perceived as intimidating or outright creepy: observation. I am a detail-oriented fanatic. It is in my nature to strip every situation into mental notes of places sounds, smells, colors, and – of course – people.

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So for those who have been reading my posts, it will come as no surprise that most of my stories are inspired by what I witness from friends, colleagues and random people I meet everyday.

Which sounds ok right? Well yes and no. I can say that I’ve learned a lot from watching people interact and maybe it this obsession of mine that has saved me from many awkward and sometimes downright catastrophic situations.To watch and learn from other people’s mistakes has always been my life’s motto.

But, here’s the problem:

too much observation of other people’s lives means that you will judge and prejudice them wrongly.

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You see, I had meant my post for this month to be a raging manifesto on women who take equality in relationships to mean basically bullying their boyfriends/ husbands. The kind of thing that makes the name “Feminazi” a legit term after all. I had all the juicy examples and situations dug up from a friend of mine who perhaps the whole of Cairo can agree on is your typical relationship bully. Until I realized that this is really about how I perceive the relationship and how my own bias seeps into other people’s business.

As far back as we were in university, the girl would tell her now newly-wed husband who to go out with, where to go and when to go home.

The guy has been the laughing stock of our group of friends for years. The theories on how the relationship will pan out vary from those who believe that he will continue to allow himself to be bullied forever to those who wait the day when he will explode in rage. Since I have known them, there is only one thought that rings in my head every time I see the two: “Holy f#ck, I would never do this.”

And it is true that a relationship based on intimidation, no matter how well-disguised, is doomed to fail. But what’s changed is that I no longer see men (like my friend) here as “sissies” or “wimps,” but rather the possibility that this is what they sacrifice for the sake of a relationship in which THEY seem to be happy.

After all, don’t we all give up something for love?

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We will never get it 100%. We will still judge, jump to conclusions, and air them with foolish confidence.

But it’s best to learn the lesson through awareness and not just because karma bites back.

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xoxo,

YASMINE یاسمین

Chicken, Bacon, (Sex &) Fessenjoon: A Recipe

Meet Arash. We first discovered him through his killer concoction: Ghormeh Sabzi sushi. He’s the founder of Bread, Butter, and Bacon — and since we’re food obsessed, we knew we had to get him on the blog ASAP. And while he claims to be a fessenjoon-hater (shocking right), we’re still turned on by the fact that he’s going to going to law school and a whiz in the kitchen. He may not call himself a chef, but we consider him a self-taught genius.

No one can beat Arash’s creativity in the kitchen

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and we’re so excited to share his latest invention with you. Check him out:

 

Unfortunately for the S&F crowd, I’m on the side that’s not too fond of fessenjoon, but in the interest of trying new things and keeping an open mind, I’ve decided to put my life-long revulsion of fessenjoon aside and try to make it myself – and like it, too!

Obviously my blog is called Bread Butter and Bacon, not Bread Butter and Fessenjoon, so one of the obvious ingredients in this dish is going to be bacon. Considering that this is a traditional dish, I will only be using the highest quality halal/kosher bacon money can buy. Anything less would be insulting to a dish held in such high regard by S&F. With that said, I’ll be using my usual Kirkland bacon.

I could have asked my mother for the recipe, but I would probably never have heard the end of her complaining about my sudden change of heart.

I really, really do not like fessenjoon.

So instead I do what I always do, google the recipe and follow the one that has the least amount of steps and the most amount of pictures. This is where I ended up.

I thought of other ways to make it more fusion-y, but I really couldn’t add any more ingredients to the pot without compromising the sanctity of the dish, so I took ingredients away instead. Here’s how it goes:

Chicken, Bacon, and (Sex &) Fessenjoon

Even though fessenjoon requires very few ingredients, no two people make it the same way. That’s why I decided I shouldn’t follow a recipe either, so I just made up my own way of making it.

The ingredients I used are the following:

  • 300-400g Walnuts
  • 4 Chicken Breasts
  • 1 pack of Bacon
  • Onions
  • 2 cups of Water
  • Pinch of Turmeric
  • Pomegranate Molasses
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There’s not many ingredients. The only thing not pictured is the Turmeric I used to boil the chicken with.

The Making of it:

When I make food, I like being able to tweak it along the way so that in the end, when I serve my dish, I’ll know exactly how it tastes. Stew too salty? I just add some potatoes. Too spicy? Maybe some yogurt can help.

Making fessenjoon for the first time was like betting on a bad hand of poker…

one where you dig yourself into a deeper and deeper hole with every ingredient you add. At no point did I know how it tasted or would taste in a couple of minutes, which I hated. So here’s how things went down.

Cutting the onions and browning them was business as usual, and I must admit that I hadn’t cried so thoroughly in a while. The onions were so potent that I was sobbing for a good 15 minutes, just enough not to add too much salt to my stew. Browning them was also easy and required very little conscious thought.

My pal Babri started crying, too. I think the onions reminded him of that time we got him neutered, like 5 years ago.

My pal Babri started crying, too. I think the onions reminded him of that time we got him neutered, like 5 years ago.

Making the bacon was enjoyable as always. Thanks to one of my previous posts, I had run completely out of bacon, requiring me to go to a store other than Costco where I broke the first rule of bacon-club: don’t buy just any kind of bacon, especially if it’s on sale. I should have realized that Schneider’s bacon was no good based on how soft the package was, but anyway – it turned out alright.

step3

Boiling the chicken was an adventure because I was running out of pots and pans to cook stuff in. Other than that it went as planned. Once I assembled my finished ingredients for the fessenjoon, as you’ll see below, things got very interesting:

That's a whole pack of bacon. If that's not fusion enough, I don't know what is.

That’s a whole pack of bacon. If that’s not fusion enough, I don’t know what is.

Referring back to my poker analogy, up until this point I had a pretty okay hand. No face cards yet, but I was happy. The second I combined everything and added the pomegranate molasses, my hand started filling up with odd cards, none of them amounting to much.

step5

You don’t play ping-pong with a golf ball, so you shouldn’t make fessenjoon with anything less than Iranian pomegranate molasses – even if it’s lower quality.

Almost done, just need to add bacon and chicken to this baby.

Almost done, just need to add bacon and chicken to this baby.

It was exactly at that point when I realized that the reason I may not like fessenjoon is the smell of the cooking pomegranate. It smelled horrible to me. To add insult to injury, I tasted a bit of it before putting it in the stew and it was the tangiest thing I’ve had in my life. Well almost. There was this one time I licked a 9-volt battery and my tongue went numb. It wasn’t quite as bad, but bad enough to draw a comparison.

At this point in the recipe, everybody would add copious amounts of sugar to the stew to make it taste like ‘real’ fessenjoon. No way, man. You couldn’t pay me enough to do that to my stew. That’s another reason why I hate fessenjoon – the sweetness. Like- make up your mind; you wanna be dinner or desert?

Since this is was my baby, I refused to add any sugar to it.

stp

Anyway, my spirits were still high because there was bacon to save the day, so I just shut the lids after adding the bacon and let the stew simmer for as long as it would take for the pomegranate to disappear. If you’re wondering why I made 2 pots, it’s because my friend doesn’t eat bacon and she would probably like fessenjoon. Thoughtful, right?

The fessenjoon was finally ready when the water had turned into a thick, almost paste like stew. When it got to that point it was ready to serve.

The Result:

I’m pleased to say that I actually liked my fessenjoon.

The chicken in it tasted great, and the stew was neither too sweet nor too tangy. The chunkier-than-normal walnuts also added great texture to the dish, and the bacon contributed to the flavor, too.

final

I didn’t eat much of it, though. With every spoonful of rice and fessenjoon I realized that it didn’t taste too different from all the other fessenjoons I’ve eaten and despised over the years. I mean yes, it was catered to my taste, but I neither like walnuts nor pomegranates, both of which combined make up over 50% of the stew. That’s why I gave it all away to my friend Vala, who loved the stew and was more than happy to take it off my hands.

fes

So the real question, as always, is would I make fessenjoon again?

Probably not. For a lack of better words, I just don’t like it. Maybe it’s the combination of ingredients, maybe it’s the ingredients itself – I don’t know. Even after putting in only the things I loved I still couldn’t get myself to eat more than a little bit of it. But I can understand why the S&F team named their blog after it, and it’s the same reason why my blog is named after bacon –

it’s because a life without food is not a life worth living.

fes1

As a fessenjoon connoisseur and borderline fatty, my friend Vala liked the bacon version of the stew much better than the regular one. I did, too. So if you’re interested in spicing up your love life, why not make some Bacon Fessenjoon for your next date and see where the night takes you.

Would you try “bacon fessenjoon?”

Check out Arash’s blog: Bread, Butter, and Bacon – by clicking here!

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