A Treasury of Persian Cuisine is a fascinating insight into another culture and another history and its reflection in a different cuisine. Shirin Simmons takes us thousands of years back to a Persian civilisation that existed before the Greeks were heard of, then forward via Artaxerxes and Ghengis Khan to today s Islamic state of Iran, interweaving the whole with a broad knowledge of the traditional foods of the region and their significance. The qualities and medicinal properties of the ingredients she cites are detailed in depth and their place and relevance in our diet is explained. While the Britons were still mixing woad, the Persians were constructing canals, farming, building cities, and trading across Asia and Europe. Medicine was closely linked to the religions of Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity (and later Islam) and these were closely linked to diet. The author highlights the significance of particular foods to health and well-being, and explains how these fit in the ancient Persian culture but can also be enjoyed today. Shirin Simmons brings a great personal warmth to the text, recalling particular dishes and recipes as she encountered them at particular stages in her life. She ties religion, health, politics and family medicine directly to the recipes she describes, and then tells the reader exactly how to prepare them. The emphasis throughout is on fresh ingredients, particularly fruit, nuts, vegetables and pulses, making these recipies ideal for a modern, health conscious western audience.
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Shirin Simmons, born in Yazd, Central Persia, now Iran was the youngest of five children from a middle class Zoroastrian family. Her grandfather was the author of a book on the culture and food of the country and Shirin s Mother was a gifted cook who passed on her culinary talent to her daughter. Shirin left Persia in the 1950s to study English in London where she qualified as a nurse and then as a beauty therapist. She also took a course in Art and then returned to live with her parents in the capital city Tehran where she became a teacher and also practised as a nurse. Shirin has been back in London since the 1970s where she enjoys hosting dinner parties and buffets within her circle of friends. She is currently working on her next book A feast of my Persian Heritage .Review:
A charming book written from the heart about one of the oldest, most distinguished and exquisite cuisines. It is packed with fascinating information and delightful insights into life in Iran. --Claudia Roden-Food writer
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