72 Bigelow Avenue
Watertown, MA 02472
April 1, 2018
There are some in high places who take a dim view of immigrants, especially from anywhere else but Norway. My adopted hometown of Watertown, MA is a quilt of immigrants, some, like Armenians, here for generations, others, like Iranians, more recent. They make me feel like I live in a world-class town.
Watertown is loaded with Middle Eastern groceries and restaurants, a great place to buy and eat healthy and exotic food. On a whim, I went to the Shiraz Restaurant for a late afternoon Easter dinner.
“Were they celebrating Easter?” I not-too-culturally-aware asked the waitress as several groups of multi-generational families were leaving as I arrived.
“They're celebrating Nowruz,” says she, adding after seeing the blank look on my face, “it’s the Persian New Year.”
"Look at the display by the door," says she. “Each item on the table represents the new season and each begins with the letter S, pronounced sin.” Iranians often make similar displays at their homes, much like others decorate at Christmas and Chanukah. This event marks the beginning of spring and celebrates the rebirth of nature.
I lamely try to pronounce the words as she points to the items on the table.
1. Seeb (apple), represents beauty
2. Seer (garlic), represents good health
3. Serkeh (vinegar), represents patience
4. Sonbol (hyacinth), represents spring
5. Samanu (sweet pudding), represents fertility
6. Sabzeh (sprouts), represents rebirth
7. Sekeh (coins), represents prosperity
The Tehran born chef/owner learned the business in the kitchens of respected restaurants in his home town. Moe Anbardar moved his family to his new home town and opened this tastefully appointed restaurant in 2008.
Here I am celebrating Easter that happens to be the second day of Passover and the Iranian New Year all at once. A few miles from Boston, I'm in an all-American town populated by new Americans from Europe, the Middle East, and a bunch of countries in Asia and Africa to boot, where there are plenty of restaurants or grocery stores that remind the new arrivals of their heritage and homeland.
And offers all Watertoonians a fabulous array of spices, cheese, pastries, soups, coffees, teas, dairy products, dinners, desserts from around the world and a warm and occasionally educational welcome.
Photos by Paul A. Tamburello, Jr.