Pomegranate Soup

Pomegranate Soup

by Marsha Mehran

Paperback(Reprint)

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Overview

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780812972481
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/12/2006
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 334,335
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

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.

Read an 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.

What People are Saying About This

Publisher

Pomegranate Soup—(Philip Gulley, author of the Harmony series and If Grace Is True)

Adriana Trigiani

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)

Frank Delaney

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)

Firoozeh Dumas

An enchanting tale of love, family and renewal that illuminates the magical qualities of Persian cuisine.
—(Firoozeh Dumas, author of Funny in Farsi)

Nahid Rachlin

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)

Rocco DiSpirito

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)

Amulya Malladi

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)

Reading Group Guide

1. Each chapter in Pomegranate Soup begins with a traditional Persian recipe, which is then incorporated into the story like a character. Why do you think the author has chosen to highlight the food in this manner? How do you think the recipes guide the narrative? Is there one recipe that resonated more with you than the others? Why?

2. We first meet the three Aminpour sisters, Marjan, Bahar and Layla, in the kitchen of the new Babylon Café. Discuss how this setting offers a glimpse into the differences in their personalities. If you have siblings, do you recognize the dynamics between the three sisters?

3. Marjan cooks in accordance to the Zoroastrian system of gastronomic balancing, known as sard and garm. As one of the world’s first monotheistic religions, Zoroastrianism introduced the dual ideas of good and evil, which are now practiced in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Have you ever heard of Zoroastrianism or the concepts of sard and garm, cold and hot foods? How is

4. Why do you think the author has chosen to set Pomegranate Soup in 1980s Ireland, instead of today? How do you think the village of Ballinacroagh perpetuates the fairytale image tourists often have of Ireland? In what ways, if any, does Ballinacroagh differ from this idealized picture?

5. The Aminpour sisters escape Tehran on the eve of the Islamic Revolution. What do you know of Iran’s history, particularly the revolution of 1979? Were you surprised to read that the Shah was as unpopular as he was with many Iranians? If you were around during the time of the revolution, what images do you remember receiving about it through media outlets in the West?

6. BothMarjan and Bahar were romantically involved with men who supported the Islamic Revolution. These relationships led the two women to perform revolutionary activities, which they later regretted. Do you feel either sister has come to terms with her violent past? Have you ever felt like you’ve lost your moral compass in a relationship?

7. In the classical Greek myth of Persephone, Demeter, the goddess of Spring, has a daughter named Persephone who is kidnapped by Hades, god of the Underworld. Have you ever heard of this myth? What parallels do you see between this myth and the three sisters’ story

8. The Babylon Café provides a venue for dreams to flourish. Discuss how the food and the sisters’ temperaments influence the villagers to pursue dreams that may have lay hidden, even to themselves. Have you ever experienced a quiet epiphany such as the one that Father Mahoney has over a bowl of abgusht? Or was your moment of transformation more pronounced, as Tom Junior’s in the Cat’s cottage?

9. What parallels do you find between Ballinacroagh's bully, Thomas McGuire, and Hossein Jaferi in Iran? What are the differences? Is Thomas McGuire’s malevolence born of evil, or is his villainy more pathetic, even humorous, perhaps? Can you think of any other parallels between the sisters’ experiences in the Irish village and revolution-era Iran?

10. Marjan, Bahar, and Layla try to protect one another from the memories of the past. Discuss the various forms in which this protection is exhibited. How is this over-protectiveness similar to events you might have experienced in your own life? Do you relate to any one sister’s methods more?

11. Croagh Patrick looms protectively over the village of Ballinacroagh. The holy mountain is where the patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick, reportedly took his Lenten fast, banishing the evil spirits that had haunted him his entire life. What roles do Croagh Patrick and Saint Patrick play in Bahar's self-revelation? What do you think initially sparked her desire to climb the mountain?

12. Young Layla and Malachy provide a romantic subplot for the story, but they also embody the future. Do you agree with this observation? Discuss.

13. What would you like to see happen to the three sisters after the story ends? Do you think they have found a home in Ballinacroagh? Do you think they are ready to heal from the painful events of their past?

Customer Reviews

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Pomegranate Soup 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
PitcherBooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Puts one in mind of "Like Water for Chocolate" but a bit less sensual. A pleasant read about three sisters who escaped Iran to make a new life in Ireland and how they did so. The mix of exotic Iranian beauties and cuisine with a small backwater town in Ireland provides a bit of amusement :-)
bookappeal on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A good March/springtime story. Three sister from Iran flee the revolution and end up in a small Irish village in 1986 where they open a Persian restaurant. They interfere with the bizarre plans of the local hotshot so he sets out to boycott the restaurant. But the delicious smells prove to be too much for some residents to ignore. The sisters slowly win over the town but are faced with their fair share of prejudice and are haunted by the past they escaped.Overall, a light story that entertains the senses - recipes and detailed descriptions of Persian delicacies are interwoven through the story. A combination of Jan Karon's gentle village stories and Like Water for Chocolate's sensual food.
gwendolyndawson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Three Iranian sisters flee Iran and open a café in a small Irish town. A bit of magical realism with recipes included. Nice attempt to duplicate Like Water for Chocolate but only slightly successful.
porch_reader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the June selection for my real-life book club. Marjan, Bahar, and Layla, sisters who have escaped the Iranian Revolution, find themselves in a small village in Ireland where they open the Babylon Cafe. They face a mixed reaction from the town's residents, some of whom welcome them with open arms and others who are suspicious of the odd smells coming from the cafe. But the mixed reactions of the townspeople are nothing compared to what the sisters have been through in Iran. Through a series of flashbacks, we learn more about the sisters' past and come to understand how their past has influenced their relationships and fears. Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The three sisters are interesting characters, each with her own reaction to the past. A number of the townspeople play well-developed supporting roles. The story unfolds slowly, with both the past and the present becoming clearer as the book goes along. The most interesting part of the book is the way that Mehran weaves food into the story. Each chapter starts with a recipe for a Middle Eastern dish that plays an important role in the story. There are some rough spots in the plot. A few pieces of the story fall into place a little too easily. But, this is a solid debut novel.
ccayne on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Interesting story of three sisters who fled the Iranian revolution and a violent man and ended up in a town in Ireland where they opened a cafe. They cook dishes from their native Iran and raise suspicion among some in the town, the local gossips and the McGuire family who have eyes on the cafe space. It was a light entertaining read even with the difficulties the sisters experienced both when they fled Iran and fitting in in their new home.
susiesharp on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What a beautiful magical book I want a restaurant like the Babylon Café in my town! I want to smell the baklava and the elephant ears and even the abgust, and it made me curious to taste pomegranate soup. I don¿t think I¿d ever find the ingredients but the recipes sound so good.This book is set in the 80¿s and is about 3 sisters who escaped Iran right before the revolution. They have been through much on their journey but have hopefully finally found ¿home¿ in Ballinacroagh Ireland where they have opened up the Babylon Café serving Iranian delicacies, not everyone in town is happy about the café but they soon have a core group of customers who will eventually become friends and family.There are some interesting characters in this book I love Mrs. Delmonico and hated Thomas McGuire who is the self-imposed ¿king¿ of Ballinacroagh he is egotistical and a racist and is bound and determined to shut down the café.I really enjoyed this book it is beautiful and lyrical and a great story. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys magical realism & foodie fiction. If you liked Garden Spells you will enjoy this book
DeltaQueen50 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Pomegranate Soup by Marsha Mehran is a entrancing book of three Iranian sisters who flee their home country and end up in a small Irish town. They open a café and immediately strange and wonderful things begin to happen in the quiet, quaint village. If you have read Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen, you would realize the similarities and enjoy the magical realism that is dished up in this book. With the eldest sister cooking up strange and delectable dishes, the younger sister fitting into her new school and finding her first boyfriend, our attention becomes focused on the middle sister, and in a series of flashbacks we find out why the sisters needed to flee their country and what they are hiding from.This was an excellent story, I grew to care about the sisters and the townspeople. The author supplies a recipe of Persian origin with every chapter, so my mouth was kept watering for these tempting dishes. As everything was not neatly wrapped up by the end, I am looking forward to the next one to assure myself that these women get their deserved happy ending.
bknaus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. The story was a little far-fetched, but the whole theme of food and good cooking as a catalyst for social interaction and healing was lovely. I especially enjoyed the descriptions of the sisters cooking and I've made a couple of the recipes. Reminded me a little of Babette's Feast.
AbbyGGH More than 1 year ago
Lovely novel. I highly recommend.
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librachic More than 1 year ago
In the sleepy town of Ballinacroagh in Ireland,three strangers arrive to shake things up,The different but exotically beautiful Aminpour sisters,Marjan,Bahar and Layla arrive to start Babylon cafe which sells traditional Persian food,delicacies and drinks.Well most of the townsfolk are welcoming,there are some who detest the three sisters such as Thomas McGuire who wants the sisters cafe space for his disco,Layla goes to school and because of her beauty attracts the attention of most of the boys at school,she is extracted to broody Malachy who is Thomas's half son and is very different from his father,Malachy is attracted to Layla,so much that he knocks over a tower tampons at the convenience store much to my amusement,Bahar has a very scarred past with an abusive husband so she finds it hard to trust people,Marjan is the oldest sister,kind and motherly plus she cooks awesome tasting food.The ending was not spectacular but heartwarming and sweet.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed the characters - Recipes are great - I have actually tried a few. A good rainy day read.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. It was wonderfully written and made you want to really know the sister's stories. I was intrigued by the setting and the wonderful recipes included in the book as well. Great read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was wonderful! The characters, especially the three sisters, were very well-drawn. What I'm wondering, though, is if this is the beginning of a series about these three young women. I can kind of see where the eventual saga is going, but I'd like to see how it gets there.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Not my normal read but this made me happy! Took me forever to get the book but the wait was worth while. Thanks E-Bay!! Full of humour, food, love and drama! This book is for everyone and at the end you feel warm and fussy. All my friends will be borrowing this book that's for sure. I dont think they will wait for paperback and out local liberary is gettin it in.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Marsha Mehran's Pomegranate Soup is a wonderful first novel, she manages to fuse the magical mysticism that surrounds Croagh Patrick with the exotic Persian cuisine of her native Iran. The story captures the lack of tolerance that sadly, is all too common today and the power of friendship that enables people to fight that intolerance. In an ever-changing Ireland where many from abroad have sought asylum, Marsha Mehran has managed to capture the feeling's of loneliness and despair that many feel upon arrival in a new country. She also strips away the veils of religion and nationality to prove the point that fundamentally we are all the same in our goals for love, happiness and a place we can call home. Hats off to Ms Mehran and here's to reading her next novel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Loved this book!!! Perfect for the Fall!The narrative is brisk, detailed and charming, the humor is delightful and the story, while simple, is addictive. Mehran effectively captures both the lexicon and atmosphere of the Irish and the Persian. The best way to describe it is to call it a modern, enchanting fairy tale in which multiple cultures and foods interact so effectively that they defeat the human tendency to ostracize because of racism and intolerance. Not only are the Irish and Persians apt to fall in love with the story ¿ but people of just about any other culture or ethnic group given half a chance. The author shows an exceptional imagination bound to lead her to a prolific writing career.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Not my normal read, but I did enjoy it from start to finish. Liked the food part. Deffinately a movie book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read a number of books this summer but so far this is the one that made me smile.Its like I took a trip to two countries in one book and ended up with a story that is similar to 'Chocolat' but with a hint of 'The Field'. The Irish caracters are great and the recipes are wonderful.This might be the authors first book, but I have read many books by some very well known writers and there storytelling does not even stand up to this book. THIS IS A NICE STORY! It was nice to finally find a good read this Summer!