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. Somehow, all these memories and emotions came together as I began to write Pomegranate Soup.
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. Pomegranate Soup offers not only a fascinating picture of Revolutionary Iran, but also a buffet of traditional Persian dishes.
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What inspired you to make food such a prominent aspect of the story, and is there a specific Persian dish you love the most? Chopping and frying is so relaxing to me; a perfect expression of love. I have to say that my favorite Persian dish is gheimeh. Persian cuisine is still fairly unknown to the greater American population.
Why do you think this is? 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. 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.
Persian cuisine, surprisingly enough, has also influenced our own views on healthy eating. Where does this balancing theory come from and how is it implemented in Iranian homes today?
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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.
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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. In the U. 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. 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. 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.
There are some dishes and ingredients that are quintessentially Persian. 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! Come and have a taste of the sweetest girls around. Words: 10, Language: English. Lady Avila has a terrible secret.
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She self harms to cope with the abusive temperament of her sister and the indifference of her father. Rami, her sister's betrothed, reveals that he knows her secret. Avila is torn between keeping her distance for the sake of her sister, and accepting Rami's feelings. What happens on Rami's wedding day will shatter everyone to pieces. Contains self harm. Words: 39, Miss Anton, the foster mother, goes to great length to keep it a secret from everyone and expects Angie to act like a young woman.
click However Charlene has a deep attraction to Angie and is determined to be with her even if Miss Anton has other plans for Angie. Words: 2, Catherine is caught masturbating to a porno by her step brother, and secret crush, Keith. What will happen when she can no longer avoid him? If he knew I was dreaming of having sex with him, would he approve or deny my sexual yearning? Words: 3, Sherrie goes dancing with her friends. After a bad encounter with a drunken guy, she is rescued by a beautiful Asian woman named Yue. Will Sherrie and Yue become an item? Words: 24, Enjoy this guilty pleasure while you can!
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Teacher, Give It To Me! Words: 1, Teachers are hot and awesome to pleasure. Want to watch? Do you have a naughty sweet tooth? Then the tasting is for you. Ever pick up a stranger at a bar? James has. Many times. Will this be his last pick up? Will Leona share him with her friend or will Stacy be forced to watch from a distance?
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