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Naperville
Thursday, January 20, 2022

A banana story

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Above / Share creativity, experiences and gratitude every day—and especially during the holidays.

“As a little boy, I remember my mother in the cold winters of Tehran heating water over our wood stove, mixing it with cold, so she could bring it to a temperature that she could tolerate in order to wash our whole family’s laundry,” Hossein Jamali, owner of Mesón Sabika, recalls. “Then she would break the thick layer of ice on the pond she brought into our house to rinse the soap off.”

Hossein Jamali

Jamali noted laundry was done after his mother spent most of the day going from store to store for groceries—a different one for vegetables, another for bread and one for meat— to prepare meals on the same wood stove.

“Needless to say we could not afford electricity or a gas stove,” he added.

Jamali also recalls a time when his dad brought home one imported banana, a special treat to be sure because bananas were not grown in Iran and they were an expensive delicacy.

Jamali was one of six siblings. He recalls watching his dad cut the banana into eight pieces to share with his family.

Years later when he reminisced about this story, he realized what an impact his father’s sharing had had.

“He could have eaten the banana before he got home. We wouldn’t have known,” Jamali said. “But he shared it with all of us.”

“I am certain that sadly in our world, our country, even our community, there are many families experiencing poverty today.”

Born in Iran, Jamali moved to the United States in 1972 to study engineering.

“Even though my dad only had a third-grade education, he was very wise,” said Jamali. “He knew his financial struggles were lack of education. And he wanted all his kids to go to college.”

To pay his way through college, Jamali worked in restaurants and learned the restaurant business. Six months into a career in engineering, Jamali was bored. He returned to the restaurant business. He’s been a restaurateur in Naperville since 1990. And he married his wife, Mona, that same year.

Jamali went on to ponder why he appreciates “minutes“ as he gets older.

“When I was in my twenties or even forties, I never thought that we are all on borrowed time and at some point we are all topsoil,” he said.

“But now the thought of departing and not addressing what needs to be done is consuming me. I am so grateful that so many families have found us (Mesón Sabika) over the years and that this year we could prepare 3,500 to-go turkey dinners for Thanksgiving Day.

“All of these memories help me understand other people’s situations and struggles,” he added.

“The happiest sounds I’ve ever heard are the sounds of laughter of my family. Specifically my two boys when they’re home from college. They have a habit of staying up late. At times I wake up and I can hear them laugh and enjoy each other’s company. Then I try to stay up as long as I can, but that is usually no more than a ‘minute’.”

“Thank you, all. Please take a good care of yourselves to add as many enjoyable ‘minutes’ to your lives, both for yourselves and those around you. And always find joy by sharing something as simple as a banana.”

Editor’s Notes…

According to Guinness, the biggest bunch of bananas on record contained 473 individual bananas and weighed 287 lbs.

The pineapple is the universal symbol for hospitality. Welcome!

Iconic American painter Bob Ross in a Santa hat is portrayed painting bananas topped with a “welcoming” pineapple. Ross is a PN favorite, known for his soft-spoken accomplishments inside the historic home where The Joy of Painting was filmed in Muncie, Ind. Muncie is the childhood hometown of PN’s publisher. The immersive Bob Ross Experience, featured for the past year at Minnetrista Museum, is a showcase of original paintings to inspire “visitors with Bob’s message of fearless creativity.” Minnetrista Museum and Gardens is just a little more than a four-hour drive from Naperville.

And here at home, you’ll always find a warm welcome at Mesón Sabika where sharing delicious Spanish tapas is a good thing.

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PN Ombudsman
An ombudsman is Scandinavian in origin dating back to Viking times; and refers to a community representative; usually acting independently on behalf of an organization, body of elected officials, or civic group. Thanks Scandinavia for inventing ombudsman.

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