Dedicated to Sose & Allen
An introductory post in a nutritional blog is a strange way to pay homage to two people who have passed away who I knew far too briefly. But considering that my relationship with Sose originated and was centered around food and nutrition, I wanted to share this story.
I was introduced to Allen and Sose through the Green Lane Market. They had heard about it from a friend and Allen e-mailed me asking to be on the list. We sent each other a few e-mails, added each other on facebook and then Sose became the main contact person for their orders. From the beginning Sose was very curious about everything we had – I was receiving constant e-mails from her about our products, where certain items were specifically from, etc. Eventually she would also send me questions about where to find items in Armenia that were staple back home. She would ask me where to find all-spice powder, red/white wine vinegar, and so on. Her questions were the kind that I loved to answer and I loved that she would always let me know when she found the desired product and what she used it for – giving me a weird sense of closure. It came to the point that I would come into work and look forward to hearing from Sose and about her adventures – even when I switched from working on the market to our other office to coordinate a project, I made sure Sose had my new e-mail address so we could continue to e-mail each other.
One day I walked into the Haleb shop with my then-room mate Mona to finally replenish my za'atar stash. I heard a familiar voice call out my name and turned around to see my friend Nishe with a person I had never met before. As soon as Nishe introduced me to her friend Sose, I knew immediately she must be the same Sose I had only known through e-mail. We introduced ourselves, talked a bit, and I went off to find my za'atar. The next workday, I had an e-mail from Sose asking where to find another item. I replied and we talked about how it was nice to finally put a face to a name. We talked about what we bought from Haleb and I let Sose know about my za'atar and tahini addictions. I gave her my famous za'atar pizza recipe and told her I put za'atar on everything. From that day forward, on top of our usual e-mails, Sose would continuously send me recipes she found that included za'atar or tahini (or both in the best cases) as the superstars. I would bookmark them all and my room mate and I would always say that when we had an oven, we would make them all. She sent me a book she bought revolving around cooking Mediterranean recipes and when I couldn’t open it, sent it to me in every format imaginable to make sure I could see the recipes that surprise, were inspired by za'atar and tahini.
When my room mate and I went to Mer Tagh to celebrate a sunny day in April by sitting outdoors and ordering meneyish, salad and beer, I saw Sose and Allen rushing by and called out to them. They were on their way to Dolmama and even though they were late, stopped to chat with us and I and I finally met Allen in person as well. I joked with Sose about how the only two times I had ever seen her was when I was buying or eating za'atar. When they rushed off, I told Mona I liked them and thought they were a “slick power couple” and we laughed. Little did I know that would be the last time I would ever see them.
Sose and I chatted about going to Haleb together the next time I needed to replenish my supplies (which was soon) and going for a coffee/tea afterwards. She felt the need to thank me for helping her find the items she wanted and I let her know I enjoyed doing it. With busy schedules I didn’t confirm a date to go and I of course regret that now. I was soon off to Canada for my brother’s engagement and let Sose know so she would facebook message me instead of e-mailing my work and I guess I assumed we would meet when I returned. The Friday I arrived in Canada, after talking to my parents for a couple of hours, I logged on facebook and right away saw a picture that was posted from their wedding day. I was used to seeing things posted about them in my newsfeed as they were newly-wed repatriates, so I almost skimmed it until I saw the text which announced their death. I felt that shock in my chest and was in complete disbelief. I went through my newsfeed to find many people and close friends of theirs posting about what had happened which unfortunately confirmed it. I quickly went into my inbox to message mutual friends about it—to talk about what and how it happened as I was so far away. Then I saw a new message from May 9th from Sose and got the chills as I opened it. It was a day before her untimely death and I hadn’t seen it yet. I opened it to see it was a recipe for a tahini and beet dip.
This is the full extent to which I knew Sose and Allen. To say it was brief is of course an understatement. But what I felt from hearing the news about their tragic death was not only the shock you would expect from hearing such sad news about people living in the same city as you and with so many mutual friends. As naïve as it might sound, I genuinely felt like I lost a friend – or I guess in my case, a soon-to-be friend. I couldn’t believe I would never receive another e-mail from Sose asking me where to find some random ingredient she needed, or that the tahini/beet dip recipe would be the last one from her I would ever bookmark. I broke down in tears telling my family about them and tried to read as many articles and posts about them as I could. I knew that what I felt was nothing compared to what those who were their family or knew them well felt, but I still felt completely affected by what happened. I realized I would never get the chance to know either of them better or go with Sose to the Haleb shop and joke about how our third meeting was za'atar-centric yet again.
As a result of this brief time I knew them, I can completely understand the shock and sadness expressed by those who, similar to me, barely knew them or in many cases, didn’t know them at all. People posting stories about their time together, or others saying they only heard about them through interviews/videos about their repatriation, but still felt like they had known them made me understand why I too felt a prolonged sadness by what had happened to two people I never got the chance to call friends.
From the first day I was introduced to Sose via e-mail, to the last message I will ever receive from her, she had shown me nothing other than generosity, kindness, humour and friendliness. It is my regret and loss to have never gotten to know this wonderful person better. For this reason I dedicate my first post to Sose and Allen, with a recipe she sent me that she tested herself and sent me a photo of to let me know that it was as tasty as it looked: roasted butternut squash and red onion with tahini and za'atar.
To Sose and Allen, whose incredible characters can easily be seen not only through the effect on those people who knew them well, but also through those who never had that chance.
Tomorrow’s post will feature making the recipe: http://www.amateurgourmet.com/2013/02/roasted-butternut-squash-and-red-onion-with-tahini-and-zaatar.html. Below is the photo Sose took of the result when she made it: