Lahic sits at the almost end of a long road that hugs a mountainside some 3 hours from Baku in the country of Azerbaijan. It was only 35 years ago that the foot/cow path that led to the village was made into an actual road. We shared this road with cows and umbrella’d children on the way to school; bought syrup and sox and pomegranates from the trunks of cars like contraband. We visited metalwork shops and listened to workers hammering away in the daylight hours in this earthquake zone 900 isolated Azeri’s call home.
In Lahic I tasted a jam that changed my mind forever. At breakfast the first morning I found something new, intense, and transformative in front of me. Gizil gul murabba – rose petal jam. Jagged bits of flower parts, sticky, sweet, and overpowering – almost. Brewed from roses gathered in the spring, parts layered with sugar and distilled in the dark. I’m fascinated with the craggy bits of flower parts and the way they turn my head and taste buds. I study the rose on my return to Baku. Pistils and stamens, filaments and pollen anthers, rose buds and hips, bud eyes and unions, ovules and ovaries. Ovaries? How could I live this long without knowing that flowers have ovaries? I have totally disregarded the depth and breadth of a flower … until this very minute. I’ve always tried to stop and smell the flowers but now, because of some random jam, I will do so with new eyes.