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12/19/10

Iranian Recipes and Memories Connect Bloggers and Readers

By Jeff Baron, Staff Writer, America.gov, Washington

Readers might turn to Persian food blogs for the recipes, but they come back for the people.

"I started sharing my memories - my positive memories - about Iran, and the more I wrote about the personal connections I had with the food I was posting about, the more people liked it," Sanam Lamborn said of her blog, My Persian Kitchen.


The Persian red mulberries that Sanam Lamborn bought at the Hollywood, California, farmers market evoked childhood memories for her readers as well as herself.
 
In describing her excitement at finding Persian red mulberries, or shahtoot, at a Los Angeles-area farmers market, for example, Lamborn wrote: "I have to tell you that they are delicious and just looking at them and tasting them brought back fond memories of our own tree which I used to climb as a child and pick Shahtoot from. I also remembered how I used to get in trouble for staining my clothes from the intense red juice of these small berries. But who could resist them? Not me!"

Azita Mehran said she didn't plan to be a writer when she started Turmeric & Saffron: "I never thought my little blog would reach anywhere. It was just my way of documenting these recipes on the Internet," she said. But the mini-essays she includes provide as much flavor as the recipes, with memories of childhood trips or news of what she's found at the market. Here's her introduction to a red lentil soup with tamarind sauce:

"Dal Adas is a popular and very tasty dish in southern Iran and in our home it happened to be one of my father's favorite dishes. Every time he would come here to visit he would ask me to make it for him but my dal adas was always a milder version of what my grandmother used to make. He liked the way his mother made this soup, hot and spicy with lots of sautéed garlic and onions, simmering to perfection in tamarind sauce. My paternal grandmother was a gifted cook who could make anything for any number of people and her recipes were known to be full of flavor and very delicious. This dal adas was my grandmother's recipe that was passed down to my father and the rest of the family. This is a perfect soup to have after a long walk in the park where the fall foliage is at its peak and the walkway of your favorite trail is covered with dry leaves that crackle under your feet."


For Azita Mehran of Turmeric & Saffron, a red lentil soup - dal adas - connected her with her father, his mother and her readers.
 
To add to the flavor, Mehran includes photos - not just of the dish, but also of, in this case, the fall colors near her home in New York.

Bria Tavakoli's recipe introductions on West of Persia can focus on food, friends, yoga and health. As a Texas native, she has fewer Iranian memories to relate. One memory dates to a childhood visit to an aunt and uncle's home in Iran, where she came to love halva - but she didn't know what it was until a friend reintroduced her to it years later:

"Memory has a funny way of distorting things. It's easy to idealize or demonize the past. In the many times I'd wondered about halva, I'd also thought, in the very next moment, that there was no way it could possibly be as delectable as I remembered. ... OK guys, don't laugh. I have to admit that tears sprang to my eyes when I ate that first bite of halva after so many years. It was like being reunited with a long-lost friend. With a past that still lives in my heart and with the family I haven't seen in so very long. With my childhood memories. Unbelievable."

Tavakoli said the personal viewpoint and the interaction with readers can be more important than the recipes. "I just want to keep the conversation going, and sometimes I'll just post about little updates or little things I've seen in the news," she said.

Lamborn said one of the joys of beginning her blog was eliciting a response from readers. "It was very exciting, on many different levels, because when you publish a post, you have no idea who's on the other end, reading it, and what kind of thoughts, or emotions, or opinions it's going to evoke for the person who's reading it," she said.

See the work of these bloggers on their blogs, My Persian Kitchen, Turmeric & Saffron and West of Persia.


turmericsaffron.blogspot.com

About America.gov: U.S. State Department's Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP) engages international audiences on issues of foreign policy, society and values to help create an environment receptive to U.S. national interests.

... Payvand News - 12/19/10 ... --



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