Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Pomegranate Soup by Marsha Mehran

This is not your usual "foodie" novel.  Most of the novels I've read involving food usually revolve around Italian, Greek , or the world of desserts.  This was very different for me, and was a very charming book.  Pomegranate Soup by Marsha Mehran takes place in the sleepy little town of Ballinacroagh in Ireland.  The three Aminpour sisters, Marjan, Bahar and Layla arrive and after renting a shop from Estelle Delmonico, they open The Babylon Cafe, serving Middle Eastern cuisine made by hand.  After a slow start, a visit from the local priest spurs the interest of the townspeople, and their business takes off.  It also helps that Marjan has a bit of magic in her fingertips, and creates dishes that will soothe the customer's appetite and their problems.  

There is trouble, of course, in the shape of Thomas McGuire, who's the unofficial town bully and a successful  businessman.  He owns three pubs and a hotel and dreams of opening a disco--his hidden passion.  He is fiercely angry that someone, especially a foreigner, has dared to buck the system and become a success.  He has half the town against the Aminpour sisters, and they are oblivious to it.  The sisters  fled Iran during the Revolution, and after many years of struggling in England, they hoped to make Ireland their home.  Each sister has a gift of her own, and haunting memories that have followed them to Ballinacroagh.  

Can they keep their cafe open and win over the town?  Will they find happiness in a sleepy little Irish village?  
Well, there's a sequel:  Rosewater and Soda Bread continues the story one year after the sisters arrive and open their cafe.  A mysterious woman washes up on shore, and she may be a link to their past in Iran.  

I throughly enjoyed Pomegranate Soup and have started on Rosewater and Soda Bread.  Marjan is captivating as the cook who works out her problems through her dishes;  Layla's forbidden romance with a local boy, and Bahar's struggle to overcome her past are all what make this novel a treat.  Each chapter has a recipe included, and a book discussion guide at the back of the book makes this ideal for a book club.  Or, just for your enjoyment.

Can I say how happy I am that pomegranate season is upon us?  I've been waiting for months, and now can enjoy those little bursts of flavor through the chilly months ahead.  If you're ambitious, you can try some of the recipes in the book that use pomegranates.  I prefer a pomegranate martini!



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  2. let me try this again... funny you mention pom martini of all days... i just made pom vodka for xmas gifts and did some tasting today, totally looped by 9am...

    i really enjoyed the first book, the second not as much, but still enjoyable. i made the pom soup, go look at fft, its fantastic!

  3. How do you make pom vodka? I've just made chocolate vodka and limoncello today. They are both marinating in the basement for a few weeks. My friends are getting booze for Christmas. Thank God they will appreciate it! I will check out the pomegranate soup, thanks!

  4. i put 2 cups of seeds in a quart of vodka and marinated for 5 days... then i tasted it... HORRID! so bitter i nearly spat it out... thats when i started to dr it, and taste it and taste it, and taste it, and got snockered before 9am! it was so bitter i added pom juice and simple syrup to taste. i am not sure if its delish, but i was so drunk by then i was happy and just bottled it for gifts :)

  5. Yep! The simple syrup is important! It sounds really yummy. I have to add simple syrup to both of my vodkas in a few weeks. The chocolate looks questionable, but I followed directions, so I eagerly await the outcome.

  6. I can honestly say..I have never had a pomegranate...am I weird or what??



  7. Wow! i am going to have to read it! I absolutely love your descriptions of things!

  8. Oh my gosh! I had no idea you wrote about books! HOORAY! I must admit, I'm skipping out of my book club tonight and may just troll around here checking out all your posts. But this one, this one sounds like one I might have to go and buy tomorrow! Thank you for this! I will definitely be a return visitor!

  9. You are welcome! I read a lot of different stuff, so I'm sure something will spark your interest. Enjoy!