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.
Beautiful strangers bring exotic recipes to town in Mehran's foodie-lit debut. The Irish hamlet of Ballinacroagh is the unlikely new home for three Iranian sisters and their new Babylon Cafe. Twenty-seven-year-old Marjan, the most skilled in the kitchen; Bahar, the tentative middle sister; and Layla, the charming teenager, fled the Iranian revolution and, after some years in London, have arrived determined to succeed. Initially wary natives soon fall under the spell of the cafe's cardamom- and rosewater-scented wonders, with kindly Estelle Delmonico (the stereotyped Italian widow who formerly owned the storefront) and friendly Father Mahoney leading the pack. But town bully Thomas McGuire, who loathes "feckin' foreigners," and gossip Dervla Quigley, who thinks "they're all sluts," will do anything to drive the sisters away. As Marjan cements alliances through her recipes and Layla falls in love with McGuire's son, Bahar continues to be troubled by the violence in her past. Can the provincial Irish welcome the "foreigners"? Will the sisters triumph? But of course! Mehran's mauve prose gets especially purple sometimes (Layla feels love "like the ecstatic cries of a pomegranate as it realized the knife's thrust"), but fans of Chocolat and other cooking-overcomes-cultural-differences stories will savor the tale, not to mention the 13 recipes, including one for pomegranate soup.
Customer ReviewsSee All
A story about sisters, war, survivors, and the healing power of food prepared with loving intention. A good read and it includes great recipes!
This book was just ok for me. I downloaded it to read on a flight, and that's about all it's good for-- to kill time. The author writes from so many different characters' perspectives that there wasn't really a protagonist. This made it very hard to care about any of the characters since none of them got much attention. There wasn't even much of a plot. The book spans several months but I can honestly say I don't think much happened. I'd skip it.