Do not open until 2021

new jar of Iranian garlic pickles

Newly canned jar of Iranian garlic pickles from the gallery installation. Photo by Jori Remus.

Happy new year everyone! Last week as part of the RISK exhibition, Columbia College Chicago’s office of Asian American Cultural Affairs hosted a special edition of their “Food for Thought” series in partnership with GARLIC & GREENS. Lunch guests were treated to Iranian food from Chicago restaurant Noon-o-Kabab and they learned about the new year celebration of Norooz, which falls on the vernal equinox. In the Zoroastrian tradition, a festive table spread called “haft-seen” is laid out with seven objects beginning with the letter “seen” and symbolizing the return of new life in spring. One of these items is often garlic, called “seer” in the Persian language. Pickled garlic (“torshi-eh seer”), is also known as Seven-Year Pickle because it is best eaten after being aged several years. Sometimes people start a jar on a special occasion such as a birthday or anniversary, and some of the finest pickles have been kept for decades. I have displayed some freshly packed jars of garlic in the gallery, and they are available for free to anyone who would like to have one, while supplies last! Just contact soulfoodstories-at-gmail to request your jar. The jars are labeled “Do not open until 2021” with the hope that people who take the jars home might be reunited in 7 years’ time for a pickle-tasting party. There are ways to cheat and accelerate the pickling process, but most Iranians agree that the older the garlic, the better the taste!

Image of Iranian pickles - seer-eh torshi

This image shows two types of Persian pickles, also known as “torshi”. Aged garlic pickles (on the right) turn dark and soft after being preserved for many years. The sharp garlic flavor mellows to a caramelized sweetness.


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