It’s been a little more than a week since we returned to Los Angeles from D.C. (our very first trip there!) and we already miss it there a lot. What a great place it is! History, culture, beautiful architecture all around – so much to explore and experience!
Sadly, the famous cherry blossom trees were hit hard by the frost right before we had arrived, so we didn’t have a chance to enjoy their pink beauty, but we are happy to hear they are back in full bloom again. Despite the cold and withered cherry blossoms, we fell in love with the city, and we explored it as much as we could fit into our short trip and busy schedule. But D.C. has so much more to offer, so we hope to visit again.
The main purpose of our trip was two big events that the Embassy of Azerbaijan to the United States (sponsor of the Second Edition of Pomegranates and Saffron) organized in two exciting places – the Library of Congress and the World Bank. I feel very honored and humbled to have had the opportunity to speak at both venues and I thank everyone involved in making both events happen.
Below is a brief photo tour of the events I put together for you to enjoy.
We arrived at the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress where the event was to take place. Thomas Jefferson Building is the the oldest of the three United States Library of Congress buildings and was built between 1890 and 1897.
We were absolutely mesmerized by the beautiful architecture of the Library.
It felt like every corner of the building spoke of history.
The event took place in the conference room of the African and Middle Eastern Division, where we took this picture.
It was a full house event. There were many familiar faces, my D.C. friends, but also many new faces I was happy to see.
Despite the brutal cold outside, so many people came to listen to my presentation and learn about the Azerbaijani cuisine.
Mary-Jane Deeb, Chief of the African and Middle Eastern Division at the Library of Congress, gave the introduction speech and welcomed the guests.
Joan Weeks is the Head and Turkish Specialist of Near East Section of the African and Middle Eastern Division at the Library of Congress. She spoke about the spring holiday Novruz celebrated in Azerbaijan and other countries and introduced me as the speaker.
The Ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan in the USA, Elin Suleymanov, gave a forward speech to the audience, presenting my cookbook, Pomegranates & Saffron: A Culinary Journey to Azerbaijan. Mr. Suleymanov has been very supportive of my book and my work in general for many years and I am grateful for that.
And then I spoke. About the cuisine of Azerbaijan, and its history and place in the Azerbaijani culture.
After the presentation, I got to meet a group of enthusiastic schoolchildren from a local elementary school. One of them won a copy of my cookbook!
I also met Elisabetta Giacon, food writer and researcher based in Italy and D.C. She won a copy of my cookbook, too!
After the presentation, I gave interviews to several media outlets, including Voice of America. You can watch the video for this interview (it is in Azerbaijani though) here. Other press mentions are available on my Press page.
For the Library of Congress event, the Embassy of Azerbaijan kindly offered traditional Azerbaijani dishes to the guests – there was a real feast at the end of the presentation, with stuffed vegetables (dolma), kababs, and Novruz pastries, such as baklava and shekerbura. I don’t have the pictures of the food, but everybody seemed to had enjoyed it. Here I am pictured before the feast with Fidan Tamirova, Consul at the Embassy. Fidan was instrumental in organizing both events and making sure they run smoothly.
This is the second event, at the World Bank. I spoke about my cookbook and gave a presentation on Azerbaijani cuisine. Guests were offered traditional Azerbaijani pastries with tea.
Before my presentation, Ambassador Elin Suleymanov and Executive Director at World Bank, Werner Gruber, made introductions and welcomed the guests.
Here I am after the presentation, posing with Azerbaijani-American ladies, mostly from the World Bank, who were involved in organizing the event. Special thanks to Nigar Aliyeva (standing, left) of World Bank, Fidan Tamirova (sitting, first left) of the Embassy of Azerbaijan, and Lala Suleymanova (sitting, first right), wife of the Ambassador of Azerbaijan Elin Suleymanov, for so much attention and care they gave to make the event a success.
That’s about it. I will carry the memories of the events with me forever, for they provided me with a unique opportunity to spread knowledge about the topic I love a lot – the beautiful cuisine of Azerbaijan. I was also happy to reunite with my old friends and make many new. I left my heart in D.C. but I hope to go back one day.