Tuesday, 22 September 2015

The Temporary Bride; a memoir of love and food in Iran by Jennifer Klinec

"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 ..."

 review by Maryom

The Temporary Bride is a cross between autobiography, cookbook, traveller's tale and romance; an account of how one Western woman went to Iran looking for traditional recipes and found love.
Jennifer Klinec was born in Canada to Hungarian-Croatian parents, moved to England, spent weekends away from her corporate job in travelling to as many exotic, out-of-the-way places as possible, then gave up that life to set up her own cookery school. Her speciality was the re-creation of unusual but authentic recipes, with nothing altered or tamed down to suit British palates: not the food served in restaurants but that consumed at home.
Eventually this culinary curiosity took Klinec to Iran, where, covered almost head-to-toe, she began to learn the art of Persian cookery in a family kitchen in the city of Vazd. This strange westerner with independent ideas at first repels the son of the household, but slowly he becomes intrigued by this woman who is so very different to the bride imagined for him .... and the couple find themselves falling in love. How can their story have a chance of a happy ending in a country where both law and custom is against them?

Now sometimes autobiographies can be a little dry and lacking in emotion - the events happened too long ago to have any real feeling attached to them or the reader is too aware of how the 'story' will end - not so here! The writing style feels almost like fiction, giving an immediacy to events, and I was lured in by the mouth-watering descriptions of food, the sights and smells of Iranian streets and kitchens, and then fear of
conducting what is essentially an illicit love affair under the watchful eyes of both family and state. Klinec builds the atmosphere with a masterly touch, making the reader feel there in the moment, whether cooking delicious sounding meals, struggling with bureaucracy for a visa extension, or stealing kisses in hidden alleys.
Mixing with families, becoming temporarily part of them, allowed Klinec to experience Iran and its customs from an unusual,intimate, angle. Whether you're interested in cookery, travel or just a plain old-fashioned love story, there's something for all here. I've only one quibble - it would be nice to have recipes for some of the simpler dishes.
 Every page held me fascinated - but did the story end happily? Read it and see.

Maryom's review - 5 stars
Publisher - Virago
Genre -autobiography, travel, cookery,

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