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This beautiful and comprehensive book will delight meat eaters and vegetarians, Jews and non-Jews, Persians and non-Persians, in fact everybody who enjoys good foods offered with class. The book has enchanting pictures on every other page, with dozens and dozens of recipes, divided into six sections: appetizers and side dishes; fish and soups; poultry and meat; Persian rice; dairy foods, egg dishes, and snacks; and Persian beverages and deserts.
Reyna Simnegar is not Persian, but when she married her "dear husband," who is Persian, he insisted that she learn how to cook Persian foods. "Persians," she writes, "love their food" and "their music." She soon became "enamored with Persian culture. I loved all the Middle Eastern flavors, the smell, the music, the color.... I had no idea that this people with such a vibrant culture existed." She introduces the book with a description of Iranian Jews, how this book is kosher, six pages of what things the non-Persian woman must have in her Persian kitchen, and a page on "It's my kitchen and I'll marinate if I want to!"
In her section on appetizers, for example, she gives recipes for three Persian breads, seven dips, and fourteen salads. All are tasty, all are nourishing. Each recipe is introduced by a paragraph or two with general information. Eggplant, for instance, is to Persian Jews what potatoes are to non-Persians. As with potatoes, salt should be added to release flavor. In this paragraph about babaganoush, she shows her breezy writing style. "Yes, you can totally buy babaganoush at the grocery store, but once you have made your own (which, by the way, is `easy-shmeezy'). You will never be able to go back to the mass-produced variety." Then she proves her point: "My husband loves this so much that if it were up to him he would use it instead of tooth paste." She continues, as she does for all her recipes, with a section describing the ingredients followed by a step by step procedure on how to combine them and produce the desired dip. Her presentation is clear that even a non-cook can follow it. The ingredients that she mentions are easy to obtain. She presents many of her recipes as if she were telling stories in the Persian Thousand and One Nights.
Some of the recipes have an additional section on the side such as "Tricks of the trade," You are what you eat," and "Tools of the trade." She concludes with about thirty pages on "Persian Holiday Tutorial" and "Other Persian Peculiarities I happen to Love."
In sum, this is a delightful book, put together with artistic flourish, with savory recipes. There is a tradition that the biblical Garden of Eden was situated in Persia. This book gives the Garden of Eden of foods.