Afsaneh Hojabri’s Tasty New Read
Afsaneh Hojabri works as social policy researcher and writer by day but moonlights as a food blogger. She started My Caldron, a mostly Persian food blog, as the unintentional extension of and companion to her first book, which, tired of the back and forth with publishers and editors, she self-published as an e-book in August, 2012.
A Sip, A Bite, A Mouthful is an engaging culinary memoir of Hojabri’s beloved Iran, where she lived until the age of 29, and specifically Shiraz. The streets and alleyways come alive with her often-humorous depictions of the colourful characters and daily goings-on and her mouth-watering descriptions of dishes being prepared and eaten.
“It is no surprise that my blurred memories of life in the Hakim alley house are dominated by the preparation and happy consumption of food. Each meal seemed a brief, still moment to treasure between endless episodes of walking, tending, carrying, washing, canning, sun drying, peeling, frying and cooking. Each dish, rolling away in endless variety along the length of the clean, cotton sofreh, was so memorably delicious that even as a child, I never ceased to be amazed at how such fine food could come from such bare and basic facilities.”
“What is it about taste and smell that keep on ‘living’?” Hojabri wonders. At her book launch at the Concordia University Oral History Center, she talked about how dishes are usually associated with people, places, and events. For example, Halva is eaten at funerals, so on any normal day it’s taste is still bittersweet.
“..Because taste and smell are the two senses most loyal to my memories; because numerous times, through food alone, I have come to savor a wealth of people and places…”
She also stressed the importance of hospitality in Iranian culture, telling the story of a burglar who was caught entering the family home – someone was sent to get help, but meanwhile, as there was a batch of kotlet (a mixture of beef, potatoes, and onions) frying on the stove, the remaining family members made sure the burglar was well-fed.
And she has brought that hospitality with her to Canada. For her book launch, she prepared and handed out the recipes for two dishes – Kookoo (Persian potato pancakes) and Stuffed Grape Leaves. Find those and more Persian dishes on her My Caldron blog.