Friday, August 16, 2013

An Afghan Feast and the Old Mission Santa Barbara!

Old Mission Santa Barbara
"The Queen of the Missions"
Founded by Friar Fermín de Lasuén 
Feast of St. Barbara, December 4, 1786

The Santa Barbara Mission was the 10th mission, of the twenty-one California Missions, founded by the Spanish Franciscans. 

Saint Francis in the Mission Courtyard

This summer, our friend Nasrin came to visit. None of us had seen her since Pakistan, in 1997. She was an Afghan who had left her country with her 3 children, and was working in Islamabad, where my parents were living at the time. 

Many years ago, only months after I'd met her, the U.N. helped her come to the United States, to North Dakota, where she'd be safe, with her children. (Long, amazing story! I'll let you know when her book comes out!) 

My family stayed in touch with her ... especially my Mom. And, after so many years, Nasrin came for her first visit to California! She came just before the 4th of July. I thought it would be fun to bring her to Ojai for the 4th, with the funny Ojai Independence Day Parade and 4th of July 

We also thought it would be nice to take her to Santa Barbara, which is a beautiful little town on the Southern California Coast.

Our first stop was the Santa Barbara Mission, with it's lovely old Spanish architecture and beautiful gardens.

Saint Francis in the lovely cemetery grounds.

Inside the church, the statues on the altar date to the 1790s, with St. Barbara in the center.

On either side of the nave are two niches or chapels, in which are inhabited by two figures each. On one side, Jesus and Mary Magdalene, and on the other, Saint Francis of Assisi with Saint Claire. The sculptures were done, in bronze, by Northern California artist, Bruce Wolfe. 

Nasrin loved these sculptures. I don't know when they were brought in. I'd never seen them and it had been years since I'd been to the mission.

Jesus and Mary
by Bruce Wolfe

Mary Magdalene
by Bruce Wolfe

Saint Francis and Saint Claire
by Bruce Wolfe

Saint Claire of Assisi
by Bruce Wolfe

Mission Kitchen

Below, old saint paintings ... somehow I didn't get the info. I was getting really hungry! Sorry!

Antiphonal, circa 1770-1775

In case you missed it, I also recently visited the Mission Santa Inés, and the blog post is HERE.

For more on the Old Mission Santa Barbara, click Here, for their website.

For information on the 3rd Century Martyred Saint Barbara (patron saint of Prisoners, Architects, Artillerymen, and Mathematicians,) click Here.

After our Mission visit, we headed through charming little neighborhoods, down the hill, to State Street, where there are lots of little shops and countless restaurants to choose from.

One of the back walkways ...

I think this, below, is a city government building. As you can see, they stuck with the Spanish architecture, all over town. Santa Barbara was a hit with Nasrin. We bought Powerball tickets and decided if she won, she'd by a house there! I, of course, would buy my villa in Italy. ;)

The next day ... was the feast. Nasrin and I drove down to Ventura to 3 different stores, for ingredients, while my mom shopped for more stuff up in Ojai! 

Here are just a few of the spices that we ground in my dad's coffee grinder.

We started cooking at about 1:30 and finished at about 7:45.

Below, Afghan/India spices, cooking with onions, garlic and tomato paste ...

Below ... fried eggplant that would go into a masterpiece of deliciousness!

Okra, which all kept referring to as "Oprah."

Carrots cooking in oil ... and sugar.

Here is the eggplant dish, with yogurt (with garlic in it.) I can't tell you the name, because I can't remember, and I probably couldn't spell it anyway but  ... oh my good gravy! Best thing ever. Pretty sure we ate something similar, back in '97, when we visited Peshawar, Pakistan. 

If you ever get the chance to have Afghan food ... don't miss the opportunity!

Below, heavenly lamb with more of the same spices, then seared in oil with sugar. (omg!) Sorry to torture you guys!

There was also a spinach dish, another eggplant dish ... a HUGE rice dish with pistachios, raisins, and carrots ... 

And this beef dish below, that was incredible, with chickpeas and peppers. We also had some "plain" rice for my nephew. By the way, she brought a special 5 pound bag of rice, in her carry on, that was from imported from India.

There were 7 of us including Benjamin (who just turned 8 yesterday!) but there was enough food for 20 people. And, by the way, my nephew ate everything! Even the stuff he says he normally doesn't like, and the rice was, he said, "the best I've ever had!"

It was an incredible once in a lifetime feast, and a wonderful visit. The following day, we took Nasrin to the Getty Center, in L.A. I'm not sure how I even moved. I'd had at least two heaping plates full of food! 

Before she left, we also had lunch in my hood, cruised around Hollywood, and looked at some of the big Hancock Park mansions.

Thank you Nasrin, for coming to visit us! And, of course, the cooking lesson! :)

I grew up in Ventura, which is about a half hour from Santa Barbara. Without traffic, that is. 

My friends and I would go see bands play, in High School, and in the years just after. This band, below, is one of the Santa Barbara bands we used to go see. (Plus, a couple of guys I had crushes on played in bands that would play the same nights, so we saw them many times. Fortunately, my "band musician period" was short lived!) 

Anyway, I will never forget, having moved to San Diego, turning on the radio in my little grey hatchback, and hearing this band for the first time on a huge San Diego radio station! It was so exciting, my friend and I were screaming! This is the song they were playing ...

Toad the Wet Sprocket, 1991

Keep all special thoughts and memories
for lifetimes to come.
Share these keepsakes with others
to inspire hope 
and build from the past,
which can bridge
to the future.
~Mattie Stepanek


Candy said...

What beautiful photos of Santa Barbara, Lucinda! I understand why Nasrin would buy a home there if she won Powerball. The food you guys made looks fabulous!

Go Toad the Wet Sprocket. I went through what I call my "groupie period" here in Las Vegas when I was in my early twenties, too. (Maybe all of us do.) As for bands with unusual names, I've been a fan of Big Head Todd and the Monsters for years:)

PK Studios said...

Fun to relive the fabulous dinner and evening. Great food and fun. I miss Nasrin!

KathyA said...

Oh Lucinda! What a buffet of lusciousness is this posting!!!!

We did not get a chance to go to the mission during our Santa Barbara visit and now have a more than definite reason to visit.

LOVE State Street.
And eggplant!

rjerdee said...

This is a treasure of a post, especially the part about the mission at Santa Barbara...the mission visit of my own that turned me on to loving "abbey style" :)

The food!! Wow! Your pictures look delicious.

donna baker said...

I think with big meals like that, the whole family helps out. I made tamales, by myself, once. I tried Chinese food several times, but again, it was an all day affair. Nowadays, I'd just as soon stick a spoon in a jar of peanut butter than cook. Then again, if someone will help... (I always think it tastes better if someone else fixes it).

Linda@ Lime in the Coconut said...

You are the quintessential California girl....kinda sorta. Great post. The food...I could SMELL the spices (I am just sure). The Mission.....Heaven. Truly.

Enjoy your "endless summer", Girl....

shayndel said...

Yes, your post is itself a feast!!
And the actual meal is amazing!!
You bring such beauty and richness into your life through your loving and light-filled way of being!!
Happy travels through your days!!♡
(thinking of what to make for dinner, ooh how I would like to make even a morsel of that!!;))

Cobalt Violet said...

Grazie per i commenti, ladies!!!!
Always so nice to hear from you and feedback!
I need to come around and visit! :)

"Create Beauty" said...

Those missions are beautiful!!!!

When I saw the words "Afghan Feast"
I pictured my dogs, long hair in their snoods, enjoying their dinner (Afghan Hounds) LOL!

~ Violet