cover image Pomegranates and Artichokes: A Food Journey from Iran to Italy

Pomegranates and Artichokes: A Food Journey from Iran to Italy

Saghar Setareh. Interlink, $35 (288p) ISBN 978-1-62371-740-7

At the age of 22, Iranian-born Setareh moved to Rome and fell in love with Italian food, leading to an interest in the cuisine of her own heritage and the culinary impact of migration. The result is this fascinating and deeply personal debut recipe collection, which evinces warm feelings about both locales while also training a clear eye on the experience of being foreign in Italy. The section on Iran features savory stuffed apples with rice and walnuts; the section on Italy serves up thinly sliced raw artichoke and potato salad; and a transitional section delivers recipes from the Levant, such as lamb kebabs. Setareh elegantly spins a web of connections between all three: showing how golden-crusted Neapolitan rice timbale, Palestinian maqluba, and Iranian rice cake with eggplant (all “triumphs of rice”) share common roots. Fattoush bread salad from Syria resembles Tuscan panzanella, and in the author’s youth she splattered ketchup on Iranian makaroni (spaghetti with a meat sauce tinged with turmeric, cinnamon, and saffron). Many recipes come in multiple versions, like a trio of Italian aperitivo cocktails and three Iranian yogurt and vegetable salads with cucumber, spinach, or beets. Gorgeous photography throughout enhances the experience. Setareh’s thoughtful tone and generosity of spirit make this well worth a look. (June)