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The Temporary Bride: A Memoir of Love and…

The Temporary Bride: A Memoir of Love and Food in Iran

by Jennifer Klinec

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2015 (1) April (1) food (2) food memoir (1) Iran (1) Iraq (1) marriage (1) memoir (3) non-fiction (1) romance (1) to-read (5) travel (2)



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This is an interesting little memoir about a young woman who grew up in Ontario and had happy memories of her mother cooking her native food from Yugoslavia. Her mother stopped cooking elaborate meals when their business took off, but Jen forever afterwards sought out interesting foods and cultural traditions surrounding them. As her parents were mostly absent after Jen’s early years, she developed independence young and found opportunities to study abroad both for high school and college. On her breaks, she would visit the most obscure places she could find. In her twenties, she had landed herself in a high paying corporate job, however, there was little love for it. She abandoned this to begin teaching cooking classes out of her tiny flat in London.

In her thirties, she goes on a largely unplanned trip to Iran, hoping to learn more of the culture and Middle Eastern cooking traditions. Immediately, Vahid, an energetic Iranian man, 6 years younger than she, sparks up conversation with her and invites her to his mother’s kitchen. Initially she is put off by him, however with time, a love interest develops. Through this relationship, a glimpse into the cultural rules regarding relationships is thoroughly explored in this land. Their relationship must remain a secret from his family and Iranians at large, until Vahid has the idea of a “temporary marriage.” They go to great lengths to get a Mullah to grant them this, so that they may be allowed to be together and have something to show the police with whom they’ve had many confrontations. Even once they’ve gone public with their relationship, it is not accepted among Vahid’s family and their being seen together causes great consternation in Vahid’s home town of Yazd.

The book quickly shifts from a memoir about a love for food to a memoir about a love for a boy. It is a book about “yaaftan,” finding something beautiful in a place where it is least expected or where you had to struggle. It is about “payvand zadan” the act of locking two things to each other to keep them both safe, an old fashioned word for marriage.

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A relationship was a mathematical formula: the correct variables of age, beauty, morality and finances were entered and the output was a successful, peaceful marriage. It couldn't be, therefore, that their Iranian son could feel desire for someone six years his senior, someone who didn't come to him pure and untouched. I was an amusing visitor from another world and soon enough I should return to it, fading quietly into an anecdote ...In her thirties, Jennifer Klinec abandons a corporate job to launch a cooking school from her London flat. Raised in Canada to Hungarian-Croatian parents, she has already travelled to countries most people are fearful of, in search of ancient recipes. Her quest leads her to Iran where, hair discreetly covered and eyes modest, she is introduced to a local woman who will teach her the secrets of the Persian kitchen. Vahid, her son, is suspicious of the strange foreigner who turns up in his mother's kitchen; he is unused to seeing an independent woman. But a compelling attraction pulls them together and then pits them against harsh Iranian laws and customs. Getting under the skin of one of the most complex and fascinating nations on earth, The Temporary Bride is a soaring story of being loved, being fed, and the struggle to belong.… (more)

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