Yuma Hashemi, chef patron at The Drunken Butler, is hosting a unique event at the Clerkenwell-based restaurant – celebrating the Persian festival of Yalda.
Yalda, which marks the ‘longest and darkest’ night of the year and is held on 21 December, is a time when friends and family gather together to eat, drink and read poetry until the early hours.
In Persian tradition, the longest and darkest night of the year was a particularly challenging day, and the practices of Yalda were originally customs intended to protect people from evil during that long night, at which time the evil forces were imagined to be at their peak.
People were advised to stay awake most of the night and gather in the safety of groups of friends and relatives, share the last remaining fruits from the summer, and find ways to pass the long night together, often through reading poetry and sharing stories.
Pomegranates and watermelons are particularly significant foods as the red colour in these fruits symbolises the crimson hues of dawn.
‘Poetry and Pomegranates’, the event being held at The Drunken Butler restaurant, will feature poetry readings from well-known Iranian-Canadian filmmaker and writer, Tara Aghdashloo, and Persian snacks made by guest chef Shirin Tahanan.
The restaurant will also be offering a special five-course tasting menu with wine pairing, served on the chef’s table by Yuma Hashemi and his team.
Hashemi said: “Yalda is a very special day in the Persian calendar and we are very much looking forward to sharing this with our guests.
“We are privileged to have Tara and Shirin with us to add to what we believe will be a fantastic evening of poetry and delicious food.
“As a restaurant which provides guests with French food with Persian influences, we are very fortunate to be able to enjoy a broad range of events linked to both European and Persian cultures. There will be many more of these coming in the new year.”