As my family and I began to architect the perfect menu for the brunch on the day after my sister's wedding, our minds were full of Azerbaijani inspiration and end-of-summer produce. In Azerbaijan, we had eaten savory, rich, fatty grilled meats and spicy grilled peppers. We had eaten salty feta cheese, smoky eggplant, and sweet, juicy tomatoes. We had sipped cold soups and eaten small salads full of herbs and nuts.
It just so happened that our local farmer's market was filled to the brim with tomatoes, eggplant, spicy peppers, fresh herbs, and even delicious hand-crafted sausages. The week leading up to the big party was a frenzy of farmers' market trips, each resulting in a new trunkful of goods.
We stocked up on the dried apricots that had been so ubiquitous in Azerbaijan. We gently toasted pistachios and pine nuts we had brought back from our trip. We snipped herbs, toasted breadcrumbs, and squeezed lemons.
Then, of course, there was the gardening and tablecloth-washing and the dusting-off of folding chairs. We counted our paper plates and ventured out to get more. We dug out boxes of old green and white-striped bedsheets to use as table clothes and asked everyone we knew for extra chairs. We recruited friends and family to help, and we slowly began to assemble the back yard and prepare it for an enormous party.
In the midst of all of this, my 5-year-old niece, Frances, and I noticed that something was missing. The adult guests may have spicy foods and good beer to look forward to, but what would the children do for the duration of the party? In the interest of adding to the decor of the party and entertaining the many children who would be in attendance, we set up a small pinwheel factory.
We gradually filled a small basket with hand-made polka-dotted pinwheels and bottles of bubbles. Slowly but surely, we began to feel ready for the big feast.
Stay tuned for tomorrow's installment of Anna's Big Feast: The Big Day!