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Pomegranate Soup (2005)

by Marsha Mehran

Series: Pomegranate Soup (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7372930,927 (3.45)63
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.… (more)
  1. 00
    Whirlwind by James Clavell (sneuper)
    sneuper: Books about escaping Iran before and during the revolution of 1979-1979. Although very different in approach (thriller vs. romance), the setting is the same.
  2. 00
    On Wings of Eagles by Ken Follett (sneuper)
    sneuper: Books about escaping Iran before and during the revolution of 1979-1979. Although very different in approach (thriller vs. romance), the setting is the same.
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» See also 63 mentions

English (28)  Dutch (1)  All languages (29)
Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
I thoroughly enjoyed how the book is organized. It definitely makes a cooking enthusiast to try one of those recipes out. Also, Mehran really knows how to sell food; the way the Iranian cuisine is described is sure to make you feel like you are missing out.
The plot of the book is nice. I enjoyed the story and the characters. However, there's a lot about the description of the characters seemed immature to me, especially Lyla and Malachy. Mehran also provides extensive details of things that I consider highly irrelevant. I skimmed through most of these details.
The book gives a great insight into the Iranian revolution and I adore the book for that reason.
( )
  nikkiroy | Apr 14, 2021 |
The selection at Cook the Books club for February/March is Pomegranate Soup by Marsha Mehran.
Three sisters from Iran end up in County Mayo, Ireland, hoping for a better life. The Aminpour sisters open a cafe and cook the delectable dishes from their homeland. It’s a small Irish village and while some of the townsfolk want to try a more exotic cuisine, there are those who shun the women and cafe simply because they are from Iran. You could substitute any middle eastern family trying to run a cafe in any small town, in Ireland or the U.S. for this plot.

The setting for this book was Ireland and Iran. The plot plays out predictably with the women and their Irish neighbors, the cultural differences accepted. Well, by most people. Definitely a foodie book with over a dozen recipes included throughout.

There were so many interesting dishes served up in this book but the recipe for lentil soup grabbed me right away. I had been wanting to make red lentil soup for a long time.

Photos & recipes on my blog. ( )
  SquirrelHead | Mar 10, 2020 |
A great summer read or bookclub book. Lots of yummy sounding recepies. Story of three Iranian sisters making a new life for themselves in Ireland and the effects their magical food has on the town. If I ever get around to creating a *books to read if you've had a crummy week/month/year* shelf, this will be on it! ( )
  Jandrew74 | May 26, 2019 |
This is a lovely book, showing not just the dark side of life as an Iranian refugee in Ireland, but the warmer, richer sides as well. It may make the reader hungry, reading about so much luscious food, but there are recipes mixed in with the story, including a few I plan to try this week. ( )
  JBarringer | Dec 30, 2017 |
Pomegranate Soup by Marsha Mehran is an infectious, witty, humane story of magic realism. Set in a quaint Irish village called Ballinacroagh, it revolves around three sisters who have escaped the revolution in Iran - Bahar, Layla, and Marjan. Haunted by a violent past, the three foreigners treat Ballinacroagh as the refuge they long for in their life - with a restaurant called Babylon cafe that serves exotic Persian food.

There is nothing thought-provoking about Pomegranate Soup. The writing is fluid, and moves the narrative without taxing your brain. The characters are all clear set - the good, the bad, and the ugly are told to you almost from the beginning. You know the ending of the book even as you begin reading the book. Yet, I liked Pomegranate Soup. It left a pleasant taste on a Sunday evening - the feeling of having spent a few hours lost in another world, yet not feeling like you have lost those hours. It is a delectable journey into Persian cooking, Irish living, and small-town sentiments and traditions.

Critics have pointed out the novel's astounding similarity to Chocolat. I haven't read that book, although I did see the movie but I can imagine how it might be similar. In both, the foreigners are treated with suspicion by the locals in a small town, and the magic of food, heady aromas and kindness of common people contrives to create an entirely pleasant effect. I cannot justify the criticism completely having not read Chocolat, but aye, let me be shameless here - if it was copied, I enjoyed the copy. :-).

Oh well, Pomegranate Soup was not a literary triumph, but it was fun to read. Utterly delicious. ( )
  Soulmuser | May 30, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
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for Christopher, always
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Dawn rose over Clew Bay and the small Irish village of Ballinacroagh.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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.

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It has been seven years since Marjan Aminpour fled Iran with her younger sisters Bahar and Layla. In a sleepy Irish town beneath the holy mountain Croagh Patrick, she hopes they might find a home.

The sisters open The Babylon Café right at the heart of Ballinacroagh's Main Mall, sending the spicy, sensuous wafts of traditional Persian cooking to work their magic on the townsfolk. Soon, business is booming and Marjan is thrilled with the demand for her cooking and with the transformation in her sisters - young Layla finds her first love, and even tense, haunted Bahar seems less nervous.

  But then the lives they left behind in Iran begin to bleed into the present and everything the sisters have worked for is under threat...

Infused with the textures, scents, trials and triumphs of two cultures, Pomegranate Soup is a delectable journey, highlighted with delicious recipes, into the heart of Persian cooking and Irish living.
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