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  • Written by Marsha Mehran
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  • Written by Marsha Mehran
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A Novel

Written by Marsha MehranAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Marsha Mehran

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On Sale: December 18, 2007
Pages: 240 | ISBN: 978-0-307-43163-9
Published by : Random House Random House Group
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

Beneath the holy mountain Croagh Patrick, in damp and lovely County Mayo, sits the small, sheltered village of Ballinacroagh. To the exotic Aminpour sisters, Ireland looks like a much-needed safe haven. It has been seven years since Marjan Aminpour fled Iran with her younger sisters, Bahar and Layla, and she hopes that in Ballinacroagh, a land of “crazed sheep and dizzying roads,” they might finally find a home.

From the kitchen of an old pastry shop on Main Mall, the sisters set about creating a Persian oasis. Soon sensuous wafts of cardamom, cinnamon, and saffron float through the streets–an exotic aroma that announces the opening of the Babylon Café, and a shock to a town that generally subsists on boiled cabbage and Guinness served at the local tavern. And it is an affront to the senses of Ballinacroagh’s uncrowned king, Thomas McGuire. After trying to buy the old pastry shop for years and failing, Thomas is enraged to find it occupied–and by foreigners, no less.

But the mysterious, spicy fragrances work their magic on the townsfolk, and soon, business is booming. Marjan is thrilled with the demand for her red lentil soup, abgusht stew, and rosewater baklava–and with the transformation in her sisters. Young Layla finds first love, and even tense, haunted Bahar seems to be less nervous.

And in the stand-up-comedian-turned-priest Father Fergal Mahoney, the gentle, lonely widow Estelle Delmonico, and the headstrong hairdresser Fiona Athey, the sisters find a merry band of supporters against the close-minded opposition of less welcoming villagers stuck in their ways. But the idyll is soon broken when the past rushes back to threaten the Amnipours once more, and the lives they left behind in revolution-era Iran bleed into the present.

Infused with the textures and scents, trials and triumph,s of two distinct cultures, Pomegranate Soup is an infectious novel of magical realism. This richly detailed story, highlighted with delicious recipes, is a delectable journey into the heart of Persian cooking and Irish living.

Excerpt

Chapter One

For Marjan Aminpour, the fragrances of cardamom and rosewater, alongside basmati, tarragon, and summer savory, were everyday kinds of smells, as common, she imagined, as the aromas of instant coffees and dripping roasts were to conventional Western kitchen corners.

Despite having been born in a land of ancient deserts, where dry soil mingled with the crumbled remains of Persepolian pillars, Marjan had a great talent for growing plants. She had learned from an early age how to tempt the most stubborn seedlings to take root, even before she could spell their plant names in Farsi. Guided by the gentle hands of Baba Pirooz, the old bearded gardener who tended the grounds of her childhood home, young Marjan cultivated furry stalks of marjoram and golden angelica in dark mounds of earth. The dirt drew its moisture from melted mountain snow, which trickled down from the nearby Alborz into Tehran’s wealthier suburbs, before flowing into the Aminpours’ large octagonal fountain. Bubbling at the center of the walled garden, the pool was lined with turquoise and green Esfahani tiles.

While Marjan trained her eye to spot the first yellow buds of tarragon, or to catch a weed’s surreptitious climb up the stalk of a dill plant, Baba Pirooz would recount the long line of celebrated gardeners who had been born on Persian soil. “Avicenna,” Baba Pirooz began, clearing his throat, “Avicenna was the most famous plant lover of them all. Did you know, Marjan Khanoum, that this wise physician was the first man ever to make rosewater? He squeezed the soft petals for their oils then bottled the precious liquid for the world to enjoy. What a Persian, what a man!” the old gardener would exclaim, pausing only long enough in his lectures to ignite the strawberry tobacco he smoked in a knobby little pipe.

As an adult, Marjan carried the warm memories of Baba Pirooz and her childhood garden with her wherever she went. Not a day passed by that she was not on the lookout for some mound of soil to plunge her fingers into. Using her bare knuckles, engraved with terra-cotta dust and mulch, she would massage her chosen herb or flower into the soil’s folds, whispering loving encouragements along the way. And no matter how barren that slice of earth had been before, once Marjan gave it her special attention, there was no limit to all that could blossom within its charged chambers.

In the many places she had lived—and there had been quite a few in her twenty-seven years—Marjan had always planted a small herb garden, consisting of at least one stem each of basil, parsley, tarragon, and summer savory. Even in the gloomy English flats she and her sisters had occupied for the last seven years since leaving Iran, Marjan had successfully grown a rainbow of cooking herbs in the blue ceramic flowerpots lining her kitchen windowsill. Always the consummate professional, she could not be tempted to give up planting by any amount of rain.

Marjan tried to keep her past perseverance in mind now as she stood in the old pastry shop’s kitchen mixing a second batch of dolmeh stuffing. She wished she’d had more time to cultivate a healthy ensemble of fresh tarragon, mint, and summer savory to add to the dolmeh that she and her younger sisters, Bahar and Layla, were making. Perhaps if she had planted something here in Ballinacroagh, she could have avoided the anxieties that were now creeping up her spine. But then, Marjan reminded herself, it was best not have such regrets, especially when she couldn’t do anything about them. There was still one more batch of the stuffed grape leaves to go—not to mention a half dozen other mouth-watering delicacies—and Time, that cantankerous old fool, was not on her side.

The Babylon Café was set to open in less than five hours. Five hours! In this new town whose name she could hardly pronounce, let alone spell. Ballinacroagh. Ba-li-na-crow. A whole town full of people who would come to taste her fares with questioning eyes and curious tongues. And unlike her other stints in the kitchen, this time she would be responsible for everything.

Marjan’s heart quickened as she browned the ground meat and onions together over the low, dancing flame. The satisfied pan hissed as she introduced dried versions of her precious herbs, the only sort she had been able to buy at such late notice. Even in Iran, there had been times when Marjan had had to resort to cooking dolmeh with dried herbs. By soaking them overnight, she had discovered, they worked almost as well as their fresher relatives. Using her entire torso, Marjan mixed the herbs with the cooked rice, fresh lime juice, salt and pepper. She stirred with all her might despite the unrelenting ache in her shoulders, for such strong rotations were necessary to the dolmeh’s harmony.

Pausing to rub her tired arms, Marjan glanced across the kitchen at her sister Bahar, who was rolling up the first batch of dolmeh. With her wide and piercing eyes, Bahar always looked intense when she worked with food—as if her life depended on whichever vegetable or herb was being sacrificed on the chopping block before her. Surprisingly, of the three Aminpour sisters, it was petite Bahar who possessed the greatest upper arm strength. Fragile in most every other way, Bahar had shoulders and arms that were as powerful as those of a man twice her size, which came in handy whenever jars needed to be opened or there was mixing to be done.

Marjan picked up the wooden spoon and returned to the dolmeh. Her sister looked too busy now to help her beat the remaining stuffing, for not only was Bahar concentrating on rolling her own grape leaves but she was also keeping Layla’s work in check. No matter how many times Marjan was reminded of the differences in her younger sisters’ personalities, there was nothing like the simple act of rolling dolmeh to show her how poles apart Bahar and Layla really were.

Bahar, guided by a stern inner compass, smartly slapped each grape leaf (vein side up) on the chopping block. It was a consistent, methodical march that started with a no-nonsense scoop of stuffing with her left hand, followed by a skilled right-handed tuck of the grape leaf. Then, bringing the dolmeh to a clean surrender, she briskly rolled the grape leaf from the bottom up. Despite her rather gruff manner, Bahar’s method for rolling dolmeh was always successful; she ensured that her little bundles of good fortune were secure on the road up, lest all that she had gathered should fall asunder.

Rolling was always where Layla faltered, for her method was more carefree and altogether too trusting. Although Marjan and Bahar demonstrated the right way endless times, Layla would still leave her dolmeh vulnerable to the elements. One could always tell which bundles were hers, for if neither of her older sisters was quick enough to catch the spill of stuffing, rerolling the grape leaf while shaking her head, the moment of truth came forty-five minutes later with the opening of the oven door. Among the neat, aromatic green fingers expertly tucked by Marjan and Bahar would be the younger girl’s unmistakable burst parcels of golden filling. And for some strange reason, they always smelled of Layla’s signature scent—rosewater and cinnamon.

It was a familiar enough smell, this faint perfume that accompanied Layla’s every move, but odd for a recipe that did not contain either ingredient. The cinnamon-rose dolmeh never really surprised her sisters, though. Layla had a way of raising expectations beyond the ordinary.

when thomas mcguire’s spits and curses hit the pavement outside the old pastry shop, Bahar was in the middle of removing a ready tray of dolmeh from the oven. After forty-five minutes they were as perfectly symmetrical as the greatest Persian carpets, the tray a clean loom upon which the stuffed grape leaf fingers were lined in even clusters and patterns. Although the kitchen was at the back of the shop, the sound of Thomas’s vulgar excretions carried clearly to Bahar’s sensitive ears. Gasping with surprise, she reached for the hot tray of dolmeh with bare hands and paid dearly for her distraction with the start of smoking blisters.

“Quick! Get under the cold water! Layla—aloe vera! Bahar, stop squeezing your thumb like that!” Marjan yelled, pushing her sister toward the sink. As the eldest of the three, Marjan was accustomed to directing her sisters in emergencies.

Bahar shuddered as the cold water ran over her scorched thumb. In the upstairs flat, a small one-bedroom residence that the Delmonicos had used as an office and storage area, Layla scrambled through open cardboard boxes looking for the green bottle of soothing gel.

“I can’t find the aloe! Are you sure you packed it?” she yelled down to the kitchen.

“Yes!” Marjan hollered. “Look in the small box that says ‘Miscellaneous’!”

“Don’t worry. It’s stopped already. See? I’ll just put an ice cube on it,” said Bahar, sticking out her hurt thumb so Marjan could see the rising welts.

Bahar tried to put on a brave face, but inside she felt a lot like that thumb of hers. Born, as her name indicated, on the first day of the Persian spring, she had the superstitious nature of people whose birthdays fall on the cusps of changing seasons. She was forever looking over her shoulder for fear that she had stepped on cracks or wandered under a ladder. Bahar’s inherent nervousness had escalated to a deeper malaise in recent years, the result of unspeakable events that had left indelible scars. Although her neurotic tendencies often irritated the more hardy teenager Layla, Marjan’s heart just softened a bit more every time she saw her sister jump so.

“Are you sure you’re all right? Listen, I’ll finish the dolmeh. Just mix the rice for me, okay?” Marjan gave Bahar an ice cube wrapped in a torn piece of newspaper and placed the piping tray of dolmeh on a low wooden island in the middle of the kitchen.

Made especially for a man of Napoleonic measurements, this rectangular table had been the centerpiece of Luigi Delmonico’s kingdom, where he rolled, powdered, slapped, and whipped the exquisite paninis and chocolate-filled brioches he would later showcase in his beloved Papa’s Pastries. It was also where Estelle, his bride of forty-five years, had found him dead—three hours after the bowl of meringue he was preparing had stiffened into a pink, cotton-candied tutu.

Of course, Estelle had failed to mention this last point when she had shown the three sisters around the place five days ago, though in reality, it probably would have made little difference. The girls’ battered boxes were already shipped over and waiting to be picked up in Castlebar. Besides, the shop, complete with all the appliances and utensils of a working kitchen (albeit outdated and a bit rusty), was perfect for what Marjan had in mind. And it came at a bargain price.

“My niece told me that you are the best chef she has ever seen. Gloria, she’s a very good girl, no?”

Mrs. Delmonico had stood in the kitchen after the grand tour, the dying afternoon rays entering lazily through a narrow, stained-glass partition in the back door. The sun rays illuminated the dust particles floating above her peppery hair. All surfaces, from countertops to the stacks of pots and dishes, were cloaked in a good inch of the snowy stuff.

“Oh, Gloria was very good to us when we arrived in Lewisham. A great friend,” Marjan said. Behind her, Bahar and Layla both nodded in agreement. “But I think she was exaggerating a bit about my abilities. I was only a sous chef. She was the real talent at the restaurant.”

“Yes, Gloria knows how to cook parmigiana and manicotti, but who doesn’t? Maybe to those English that is gourmet, but you should have seen my grandmother cook! Pfff! If she was still alive today she would be rich from her cooking, I tell you!”

Estelle Delmonico laughed and placed her chubby hands on her hips. The good-natured widow cocked her head and offered a smile to each of the three young women. Fate had it that, although blessed with the welcoming girth of childbearing hips, she had never been able to give Luigi a baby of their own. It was one of her few regrets in an otherwise fortunate and colorful life. But her barrenness had never turned to resentment, a blessing Estelle often accredited to her niece, on whom she was able to practice all the loving criticisms her own mother had lavished upon her. Gloria was a great source of release for Estelle Delmonico, and now she had sent her three darlings to look after as well.

“Okay, then? You will take the store, eh?”

Marjan turned to Bahar and Layla, both of whom appeared to be asleep standing up. Their drawn, exhausted faces had the look of torshi, pickled onions that have been pulled from their bed of vinegar and salt. Who could blame them, really? It had been a long four days since they left London, shipping off their hastily packed boxes and throwing a few personal belongings into two worn plaid suitcases, the same suitcases that had seen them through the Iranian desert a long time ago. The plane ride from London to Knock had been painfully tedious, immigration and customs even worse. Answering the same questions about their religion and ethnic background over and over again. Then two days holed up in a backpackers’ hostel in the nearby town of Castlebar, waiting for their boxes to arrive while they survived on white bread and some hard cheese that Marjan had bought from a corner grocery. Layla, of course, had complained all the way (such was the prerogative of her age), but Bahar had remained sullen, her big doe eyes wet with frightened tears.

But, thought Marjan, the worst certainly seemed behind them. Especially now that they were standing in this dusty little kitchen, with this generous Italian woman. It was time for a new start, time for them to take all the money they had in the world and finally make something of those years of hardship.

“You stay, yes?” Estelle Delmonico pulled a heavy, corroded key from a hidden pocket in her black dress. Toothy and archaic, it was the kind of key that would have released Pandora’s own demons.

“Yes.” Marjan nodded, accepting the key. “We’ll stay. How would you like the rent paid? Monthly or weekly?”

“Agh, don’t worry about that now. You give it to me whenever you have it, yes? I think what is more important is to get you a big bowl of my minestrone soup. That would put some energy in this pretty face, eh?” Mrs. Delmonico walked over to Layla and lightly patted her left cheek.

Marjan, determined to keep up the momentum that had carried them from London over the Irish Sea and into this land of crazed sheep and dizzying roads, shook her head, more to her sisters than to the jolly widow.


From the Hardcover edition.
Marsha Mehran|Author Q&A

About Marsha Mehran

Marsha Mehran - Pomegranate Soup

Photo © Jordan Matter

Born in Tehran, Iran, Marsha Mehran escaped the Revolution with her family. She has since lived in such diverse places as Buenos Aires, The United States, Australia and Ireland. Her first novel, Pomegranate Soup was an international bestseller, and her second novel, Rosewater and Soda Bread, continues the adventures of the three Aminpour sisters. She lives in New York, where she is busy spinning more tales.


Visit www.marshamehran.com to find out more about Marsha Mehran

Author Q&A

A Conversation with Marsha Mehran



Q: Pomegranate Soup is your first novel. What inspired you to write this book?

Marsha Mehran:
I was living in Ireland in 1999 with my husband, who is Irish. “Multiculturalism” wasn’t even in the vernacular; I was one of only a handful of “foreigners” living in County Mayo. When I walked down the village main street, people literally came out of shop doors to stare at the “brown girl” passing by! At the local pub, I was often asked if I was Japanese or Chinese (ethnic groups which I do not remotely resemble). During this time I met a Middle Eastern family that ran a deli outside of Castlebar. They sold cans of chickpeas, tahini, and Mediterranean condiments, which are common in supermarkets today, but were a rarity back then. This Lebanese family reminded me of my own parents, who had escaped the Islamic Revolution in Iran and moved to Argentina, where they opened a Middle Eastern eatery. They carried the same haunted, lonely look on their faces that my mother and father had, as they struggled to build a life in a country so vastly different from their homeland. The image of this family stayed in my mind, even as I moved back to New York and began writing my first novel, a story about Iranian women. Nearly two years later, still toiling with the manuscript, it dawned on me that something was missing from my story –a sense of joy. A happiness and vitality that is particular to Iranians, to Persian culture itself. I wanted to express the beauty of my birthplace; a vision I knew was incongruous with the dark, violent images Westerners see when they think of Iran. Above all, I wanted readers to smell and taste one of Iran’s greatest contributions to the world: its delicate, perfumed cuisine. Somehow, all these memories and emotions came together as I began to write Pomegranate Soup.

Q. Although Pomegranate Soup is not autobiographical, how much of your protagonists do you see in yourself?

MM: I am a mixture of all three sisters, actually. There is a little of maternal Marjan, a bit of neurotic Bahar, and even a dash of the free spirit that guides Layla, in me.

Q.
Pomegranate Soup offers not only a fascinating picture of Revolutionary Iran, but also a buffet of traditional Persian dishes. What inspired you to make food such a prominent aspect of the story, and is there a specific Persian dish you love the most?

MM:
I’m mad about cooking. Chopping and frying is so relaxing to me; a perfect expression of love. When you give of yourself through a dish, you aren’t just feeding somebody’s physical hunger, but nourishing a deep longing for home, for a safe place to rest. I have to say that my favorite Persian dish is gheimeh. It’s a delicious stew made from tomatoes, yellow split peas, lamb, and French-fried potatoes.

Q. Persian cuisine is still fairly unknown to the greater American population. Why do you think this is?

MM: Maybe it’s a public relations thing – not enough advertising. There are approximately one million Iranian Americans living in North America, most who moved here after the revolution. So, it probably is just a matter of time, really. I’m definitely ready to spread the word!

Q. It’s fascinating how many of our Western ingredients and dishes have a direct connection to Iran. The ancient Silk Road connecting Europe and Asia ran right through the Iran, isn’t that so? How do you think this influenced world cuisine?

MM:
With dishes dating back three millennia, Iranian cuisine has influenced the eating habits of countless cultures: ancient Greeks, Romans, Chinese, Indian, Arabic, medieval Europeans, you name it. Lemons, oranges, pistachios, barberries, saffron and pomegranates, were instant sensations in ancient Greece and Rome, flavoring their bland dishes and changing the course of language forever. Many of our words for foods find their etymological roots in Iran. Lemon, for example comes from limoo, the word orange from narang, and so on. Most important, Persian cuisine, with its myriad ingredients and balance of sweet and sour flavors, has endured because it is undeniably tasty. A spoonful of saffron rice, buttered and sprinkled with dill and lima beans, is pure heaven.

Q. Persian cuisine, surprisingly enough, has also influenced our own views on healthy eating. The Surgeon General’s daily nutritional recommendation – the food pyramid we’ve been taught to follow for so long – has its genesis in the Persian Zoroastrian system of balancing. Where does this balancing theory come from and how is it implemented in Iranian homes today?

MM:
Zoroastrianism was founded by the Persian prophet Zoroaster around 600 B.C. and is now believed to be one of the first, if not the first monotheistic religion. It’s dualistic in nature, and its basic concept concerns opposing forces: good and evil struggling for supremacy. This theory of opposites extends to every aspect of life, including diet. Foods, like people, are believed to have natures, hot or cold, garm or sard. Melancholia or lack of energy can be treated with garm foods. Hot tempers, fevers, and nervous tension can be alleviated by sard foods. Good health is obtained when there is a balance. Most modern-day Iranians, my mother included, still believe in this system of gastronomic balancing. During my school years, if I had an important exam coming up or needed to have all my wits about me for an assignment, my mother would insist I eat ajil: a mixture made from dried fruit such as raisins and figs and walnuts, almonds and pistachios. She believed that this garm food would raise my energy levels and help with concentration. (I would always ace a test when I followed her advice!) To calm me down on hot days, or when I was particularly temperamental, cucumber and yogurt dip combined with white basmati rice was a good sard remedy. Likewise, in the book, Marjan keeps a close watch over her moodier sister Bahar, feeding her dishes according to her state of mind.

Q. In the U.S. we take our meals wherever we can: at the dinner table, on the couch, in the car, squeezing them into our busy schedules, almost like an afterthought. It’s completely the opposite in Iranian homes, with their tradition of the sofreh. How does the sofreh affect the way Iranians eat?

MM: Not until my late teens did I ever use a dining table for something other than collecting books, errant newspapers, and household bills. All my childhood meals were celebrated on a piece of embroidered cloth called the sofreh. Sitting cross-legged along its borders, families are able to “touch base” in the most fundamental of ways. A picnic three times a day! A typical meal could last up to two hours, and if the weather was particularly hot, the entire contingent would move outdoors. Rooftops or any patch of grass would do. In the book, Marjan has a wonderful memory of spending a hot summer’s night eating and telling stories on her childhood home’s sunken rooftop. I, too, have distinct memories of dining around a sofreh on our rooftop in Buenos Aires, while my mother told me fantastical tales of Scheherazade and the Thousand and One Nights.



Q. There are some dishes and ingredients that are quintessentially Persian. Fresh herbs, for instance, aren’t just used as seasonings and/or garnishes. What is it about herbs that Persians love so much?

MM: Nothing, absolutely nothing beats a warm piece of lavash bread folded over creamy feta cheese and a fat sprig of sweet basil or mint. Herbs reign supreme in Persian cuisine. Platters piled with bunches of tarragon, marjoram, mint and basil accompany every meal, as does homemade cheese and just-baked bread. Persian supermarkets, unlike their Western counterparts, devote long refrigerated aisles to fresh herbs, which are sold by weight and not sprig. Stews, salads, rice, egg dishes, ground meat mixtures – all contain at least a cup, if not more, of chopped herbs. Marjan Aminpour has a special affinity for herbs, a green thumb for planting them wherever she goes. They give her strength and hope. I also grow my own herbs. I use small terra-cotta pots, lining them along my sunny kitchen windowsill. It was a practice I picked up during my time in Ireland, where the inclement weather made it hard to grow delicate plants outdoors. I love my little collection of sweet basil, lemon mint, dill, and cilantro!


Q. I love the image of the bubbling samovar in the novel, which is so central to the Aminpour sisters’ café. Can you tell us a bit more about the ritual of drinking tea?

MM: There was a period in my childhood when samovars seemed to be taking over our household. My mother had an obsession for them and scoured garage sales and Persian grocery stores for antique, brass, miniature, and electric versions of the water boiler used to make tea. No matter what time of day, visitors to our home were ensured a hot cup of tea thanks to these miraculous machines. Persian tea is easily obtained at any Middle Eastern grocery store nowadays. However, if you’re looking for an approximation in the general supermarket, an even mixture of Earl Grey and Darjeeling will do. Persian tea exudes a rich, orangey perfume and a dark amber color. The thing to remember is that Persian tea is always meant to be taken with some sort of sweet accompaniment, such as sweetened nuts, fruit, nougat candy, dried mulberries, or raisins. But beware: Persians never sweeten their tea beforehand. Rather, cubes of crystallized sugar are clenched between the teeth, before a sip is taken, allowing for the synthesis to occur right on the tongue.


From the Hardcover edition.

Praise

Praise

 
"Few novels have such charm, such fusion. Marsha Mehran takes one of the great staples of literature, food and its creation, and makes it  the vehicle of a delightful, subtle fairytale. With a deep understanding of opposites such as whimsy and poignancy, she delivers a moving and very amusing enquiry into whether differences between peoples exist at all. "

-- Frank Delaney, author of Ireland

 
"Pomegranate Soup is glorious, daring and delightful.  I adored the Iranian sisters, Marjan, Bahar and Layla, who are looking to build a life, start a business and find love in a place so far from home. Ireland has never been more beautiful -- the perfect setting for this story filled with humor, hope and possibility."
--Adriana Trigiani, author of Rococo


Recalling James Joyce's Dubliners, this first novel by Mehran (who was born in Iran but now lives in Ireland) centers on the inhabitants of a small Irish town. When three Iranian sisters move into the former bake shop and open a Middle Eastern caf , turmoil erupts. The quirky and wonderfully fleshed-out characters who make up the populace of Ballinacroagh align with either the sisters and their exotic delicacies or the town bully, Thomas McGuire, who attempts to put them out of business. From the young and lovely Layla to resident gossip Dervla Quigley, these characters come to life; they're as uniquely simple or as deeply complex as the dishes that eldest sister Marjan concocts-recipes included! Personal demons and questioned loyalties play out like a movie on the page (think Joanne Harris's Chocolat), making the reader feel like an eyewitness to all the events. A satisfying summer read or book club pick; highly recommended.
— Library Journal

 
“Books Best Read With a Helping of Fairy Dust: Three sisters who have fled their native Iran set up a Persian cafe in their new home, the tiny town of Ballinacroagh, Ireland. After initial suspicion, the townsfolk learn to love the shop with its spicy fragrances and exotic foods. Marsha Mehran describes the food in mouthwatering detail--with a dash of magic realism.”

-- The Chicago Tribune


To give the reader a better appreciation for the pivotal role of food in the novel, Mehran includes recipes for some Iranian specialties: stuffed grape leaves, elephant ear pastries, and the title’s pomegranate soup. Stark contrasts between the sisters’ lives in Iran and Ireland and between the Irish and Persian cultures energize Mehran’s tale.

Mark Knoblauch  -- Booklist


“In one bite, exotic pomegranates offer a bittersweet reminder of where you are and where you could be. Marsha Mehran is masterful in her exploration of the worlds of the familiar vs. the unfamiliar, chuckling all the way.”

-- Rocco DiSpirito, celebrity chef and author of Flavor and Rocco's Italian American

 
Pomegranate Soup, a delightful debut novel, goes from Iran to Ireland and catches the flavors of both cultures through unforgettable scenes and characters.  The three Aminpour sisters leaving Iran on the eve of the Revolution, opening a Persian restaurant in an Irish town, enchant us with their optimism and aroma of pomegranate soup, lingering beyond the pages.”

-- Nahid Rachlin, author of Foreigner and Veils

 
“Vibrantly alive and populated with rich characters, this is a delicious first novel flavored generously with Persian spices and Irish temperaments. Marsha Mehran writes with a deft hand and a sparkling imagination.”

--Amulya Malladi, author of Serving Crazy with Curry

 
"An enchanting tale of love, family and renewal that illuminates the magical qualities of Persian cuisine."

-- Firoozeh Dumas, author of Funny in Farsi

 
“Pomegranate Soup is a delicious first novel, chock-full of wisdom, hope and the human capacity to overcome.  All first novels should offer as much.”

-Philip Gulley, author of the Harmony series and If Grace Is True 


From the Hardcover edition.

  • Pomegranate Soup by Marsha Mehran
  • September 12, 2006
  • Fiction - Literary
  • Random House Trade Paperbacks
  • $15.00
  • 9780812972481

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