Kerman, Copper Bazaar, and Quince Jam
Quince is one of the most beloved fruits for Iranians. We use quince in foods like jams, stews, and juices. In fact, almost every family has a recipe for quince jam. In an Iranian family there maybe an aunt, a sister, or a mom who makes the best quince jam. My family is no different, mom is the expert in making jam, but I've never had the right tools or the skills to make quince jam as delicious as my mom.
In Kerman, we eat quince jam with yogurt; a dessert that luckily I don't have to share with Bill, not because I won't offer ;) because he doesn't like yogurt. So, a jar of quince jam that mom made for me four years ago is now only less than half empty, but still fragrant and delicious. I keep it in my fridge and on days that I feel homesick for mom, the smell of her kitchen, and Kerman, I treat myself to a full spoon of quince jam with yogurt.
Everyone who makes quince jam knows the best jam is made in copper pots, the reaction between copper and quince turn the quince red. It's magical to watch the quince turn color from pale yellow to gorgeous red color. One thing that most people don't know is that Kerman (the city that I'm from) is famous for its copper.
As a matter of fact, the second largest copper mine in the world is located in Kerman. Kermanians have been producing handmade copper dishes for more than 5000 years. Kerman's copper bazaar has been in place since the Safavid era (500 years ago) and is the place where you can find amazing and gorgeous handmade pots, pans, trays, and decorative plates. I walked this bazaar with my mom and grandmother many many times and every time I wanted to talk, I had to scream because mesgara (the men who worked as the copper artists) use a hammer to shape the copper sheets and the noise was incredibly loud. Even though at times the loudness could be annoying, it had a rhythm like a melody. Looking back, I wish I had appreciated those moments and those days more.
A year ago when I visited Kerman, I was sad to see the bazaar was crumbling and quiet, I didn't need to scream for people to hear me. The artists (Mesgaran) no longer make handmade pots and pans like they did before. There are only few shops that still offer handmade copper pieces. I bought one with the thought that you can't take things for granted, my grandma is no longer with us, the sound of mesgra is gone, the bazaar is quiet and maybe one day the bazaar will be gone too. During my visit, I hoped that one day mom and I would make quince jam together and she would teach me the ins and outs of making this popular jam.
Back to LA: this year was not easy to find quince, not sure why, but Naz from the bottom of the pot wrote a lovely post about finding quince in the farmers' market.
Mom and I finally found some quince at a Persian market close by my home, even though they were not juicy, the jam came out so red, very fragrant, and exceptionally delicious. It must be the Kermani pot or the Kermani hands, or both that made it so delicious :)
Update: After writing this blog post, I got so many request to make quince jam for sale, so if you're interested, please visit bazaar