- Fizzy Thoughts: Pomegranate Soup

Pomegranate Soup

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Yesterday, I admitted that I don't like to cook. Today, I just finished a book that centers around food and cooking. Go figure.

Pomegranate Soup
Marsha Mehran
222 pages

The Aminpour sisters, Marjan, Bahar and Layla, fled Iran on the eve of the revolution. After a few years in London, they have finally come to Ballinacrough, Ireland, to open a cafe and settle into a stable life. Marjan is a talented cook, and her exotic recipes are a hit with many of the locals. However, their appearance in this small town also causes quite a stir. The local big man in town, Thomas McGuire, isn't too happy that the cafe is a success. He feels threatened by the lure the cafe and the sisters seem to have for many of the townspeople.

Despite McGuire and his sphere of influence, Ballinacroagh is also filled with people who welcome the Aminpours. Estelle Delmonico rents them her empty restaurant and becomes a surrogate mother. Young Malachy McGuire is instantly smitten with Layla. Fiona Athey, owner of the hair salon, ignores local gossip and befriends Marjan. Soon, the sisters are a part of the community.

This is not a complicated book. The appeal is in the recipes that begin each chapter, and how it illustrates the importance of traditional Iranian dishes. Mehran also gives a brief glimpse into how the Iranian revolution affected the lives of the sisters, and how they struggle to fit into such an insular Irish community. The brief drama that slooooowly unfolds through the book is almost incidental. Despite this, I enjoyed the book. And for some reason, I want to make baklava (the recipe is on page 38).

The sequel, Rosewater and Soda Bread, is due out this May. I didn't feel that the book was in need of a sequel though, leading me to wonder if the author is going to repeat the formula of her first book to capitalize on its success.

5 comment(s):

Anne said...

I must check this book out, I enjoy finding readable books that give me a glimpse into other cultures. I've read a couple books set in Afghanistan (e.g. Kite Runner which, I hasten to add, I read long before the movie came along), but none of an Iranian setting.

Veronica said...

This book sounds really interesting, and kind of like the movie "Chocolat." I think I should find this book.

Melissa said...

Glad you liked it. If you do make the baklava recipe... let me know. I'd love to know how it turns out.

softdrink said...

Anne, I'd definitely recommend this book, along with Saffron Kitchen (set in Iran and England) and The Bastard of Istanbul (US and Turkey).

Francesca (Scribacchina) said...

I'm completely with you on these recommendations, but for me Pomegranate Soup was waay above Saffron Kitchen (and way above Chocolat, too, although there are similarities). PS. Good luck with your baklava. I ate it once some 7 years ago, and my mouth still waters at the thought.

In a real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. ~S.I. Hayakawa

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
~St. Augustine

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
~Mark Twain

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