The Cultural Associations Of Alcohol

A new United Kingdom Government report has warned that parents perpetuate myths to convince themselves that their children’s’ drinking is safe. This includes beliefs that children need to learn about alcohol for themselves and that drinking is a “right of passage.” Other beliefs which seem to me to encourage the drinking problems of our nation include a deep-seated cultural association of drinking alcohol with having fun, if not the very act of socialising itself. Perhaps we need to change our culture.

How does one change a culture? One can begin with the right message. In the words of Bahá’u’lláh

‘It is inadmissible that man, who hath been endowed with reason, should consume that which stealeth it away…’

The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Bahá’í World Centre, 1992 edition

Minoo’s Recipe for ‘Sabzi Polou’

‘Sabzi Polou’ is Persian rice with herbs that is commonly accompanied by fish. We like Sabzi Polou at any time of the year- not just at our Baha’i celebration of Naw-Rúz when it is a Beech family tradition. The following recipe should serve 4-5 people.  

 Ingredients 

Chopped fresh fenugreek, coriander, dill, chives and parsley- sufficient to fill small cup when chopped

2 cups basmati rice  

Vegetable Oil, Salt to taste

Instructions

1.           Rinse rice in pan, carefully pouring out the ‘cloudy’ water (this will avoid the rice going sticky)

2.           Add 4 cups of fresh water, 1 teaspoon salt and 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil to the rice in the pan

3.           Boil for around 15 minutes, until rice is par-boiled

4.           Drain rice in a colander.

5.           Cover the bottom of the pan with a few teaspoons of cooking oil

6.           Put the par-boiled rice back into the pan, if possible heap it in the middle (Don’t know why-it seems to cook better…).

7.           Add chopped herbs- ‘folding in’ gently to avoid ‘mushing’ rice

8.           Wrap the pan lid with a muslin-type cloth and cover

9.           Cook on a low heat for a further 30 minutes or so

Ideally it should become crunchy at the bottom, forming what the Iranians call ‘tahdiq’. You should be able to turn over the pan onto a tray so that the rice ‘pops out’ in an aesthetically-pleasing round pan shape. Serve with fish.

Death Penalty For Changing Faith In Iran

I am very concerned to learn from the Telegraph.co.uk that Iranian Christian Ramtin Soodman is being held in prison in Mashad, Iran having being arrested on August 21. Although like the Bahá’í prisoners he has not been formally charged, his sister Rashin fears that her bother may be executed for the ‘crime’ of apostasy as was her father Hossein Soodman in 1990. Hossein Soodman converted to Christianity at the age of 13. Rashin is especially concerned for the fate of her brother as the Iranian parliament recently passed a bill called the “Islamic Penal Code”, which codifies the death penalty for any male Iranian who leaves the Islamic faith. (Women would ‘merely’ be sentenced to life imprisonment). Depressingly the new law was passed with an overwhelming majority of 196 to 7 votes…

‘The Second Coming’

In the gathering economic crisis I am reminded of the words of W.B. Yeats in “The Second Coming” that

“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world…”

Yeats also looked forward with trepidation to an ironic “Second Coming” asking in the final lines of the poem-

             “what rough beast, its hour come round at last,

Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”

Happily the real (and far friendlier) Second Coming has already arrived. In the words of Bahá’u’lláh

“The Divine Springtime is come, O Most Exalted Pen, for the Festival of the All-Merciful is fast approaching. Bestir thyself, and magnify, before the entire creation, the name of God, and celebrate His praise, in such wise that all created things may be regenerated and made new. Speak, and hold not thy peace. The day star of blissfulness shineth above the horizon of Our name, the Blissful, inasmuch as the kingdom of the name of God hath been adorned with the ornament of the name of thy Lord, the Creator of the heavens. Arise before the nations of the earth, and arm thyself with the power of this Most Great Name, and be not of those who tarry”.