A book review on Onions and Paper? Yes indeed and when I tell you that the full title of this book is "The Temporary Bride - a memoir of love and food in Iran" you will understand why!
The book, by Jennifer Klinec, is to be published by Virago on September 3rd, and you can order and advance copy from Amazon if you are eager to be one of the first to read it. And as you will see, I think it is well worth reading!
I received a review copy from Netgalley - I just couldn't resist the title!
The book is an autobiography of Jennifer Klinec, who was born and raised in Canada to parents from Eastern Europe. A fierce streak of independence, combined with a passion for travel and food, dominated her early life but eventually she settled down to a corporate job in London. However she soon became restless and started to travel extensively at weekends, until she could no longer face the corporate life and opened a cookery school.
From then on her travels were research trips for the exciting and authentic dishes she taught in her classes. One of these trips took her to Iran, where she met a young man called Vahid, whose mother taught her much about local cooking while he showed her around local places of foodie interest, and gradually Jennifer and Vahid fell in love. A love so totally alien to his culture, so defiant of local laws and traditions, that a - to us in the UK - very unorthodox solution was the only way forward.
Where the book fits in with the remit of this blog is the total passion for food that fills every page - as I read, I was salivating, picturing the colours, the smells, the tastes and the textures. Much of the story, much of the emotion, much of the landscape, is communicated through the medium of food and eating. I kept wanting to put the book down and head into the kitchen to cook - and yet at the same time I didn't want to stop reading.
The writing is beautiful, the story enthralling, and I learned a huge amount from the book - not just about Iranian food but also about the culture, customs, laws and people. But never for one minute did all that learning feel like a chore. I loved reading this book and would thoroughly recommend it to anybody who is interested in food, culture or just a great love story.
Although this isn't a recipe book, Jennifer has shared some of the recipes described in it on her blog - you can find the all-important Persian rice here and a selection of other dishes here.