We'd left Tehran on a Friday, prepared to camp out overnight at the mosque and reach the peak on Saturday. As is traditional, our mountain guide had tins of food for the crew. But as we made our way up along the winding roads, I noticed a handful of markets with brilliant tomatoes gleaming from behind fruit stands, and heaps of ripe watermelons spilling out onto the dusty ground. Dismayed at the prospect of eating dinner from a can in the presence of such abundant produce, I asked our guide if he'd let me fix our dinner. We collected only what we could comfortably carry: a chicken, some rice, chiles, mushrooms, a bundle of fresh tarragon, and a pinch of Iranian saffron. The canned foods might have been more practical, but with a little ingenuity and a handy portable stove, a hot, comforting stew was ready in no time.