"Pomegranate Soup," by Marsha Mehran
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.
I don't remember where I saw this book advertised but it interested me enough that I thought I needed to read it. I even thought this would be a good book for my choice for the book club. I loved this book, and was sucked up into the story right away. It was such an interesting concept to place the Amnipour sisters in a small village in Ireland and see how the locals would get along with the "foreigner's." It made for a wonderful story and one that I am sure is played out all over the world.
It had it's funny moments and it had it's sad moments. The way the author describes each dish, makes you almost smell the wonderful flavours and spices she puts into each dish. Helping you along is a recipe to start each chapter. So if you are interested in the food of Iran and that area, you can try the recipes.
How the sisters integrate themselves into the small village where as with everywhere in the world, some people welcome you with open arms, so not so. There will always be people who don't want change and peeling away the layers of all the characters, reveals some interesting things. Things you would never have guessed would be there.
Stars out of 5 : 5 I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and read it over a couple of days. There is a sequel to this one called: Rosewater and Soda Bread, which I have just ordered from the library. I have decided not to recommend this book as my choice for the book club, because although I loved it, I am not sure the other people will. I do recommend you all reading this though as it is a fun book and not a hard read.
P.S. You will never guess in a month of Sunday's why Thomas McGuire wants to buy the pastry shop or what he wants to do with it!!!