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From photographer and food writer Saghar Setareh comes a cookbook full of rich new recipes that show how ingredients and recipes–unconstrained by borders–are shared and transformed through the immigrant experience.
When Iranian writer and food photographer Saghar Setareh moved to Italy at the age of 22, she was enchanted by the rich food culture of her adopted country, and this inspired a curiosity in the cuisine of her homeland and the surrounding countries of the Levant and Eastern Mediterranean. Pomegranates and Artichokes is the story of Saghar’s own culinary journey from Iran to Italy, in which she describes the many parallels that link Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food cultures, and shows how ingredients and recipes–unconstrained by borders–are shared and transformed through the immigrant experience.
Divided into three sections representing stops on Saghar’s culinary “road trip”–Iran, In Between, and Italy–this book features more than 80 recipes celebrating the foods of these regions. Among the highlights are a simple Iranian breakfast platter, a celebratory Persian feast, Sicilian-style stuffed artichokes, guinea hen braised with pomegranate, sweet–sour meatballs from Aleppo, a Roman ricotta and wild cherry pie, and a velvety Middle Eastern milk pudding.
Illustrated with Saghar's own beautiful photography and peppered with personal insights and experiences, Pomegranates and Artichokes tells the story of two food cultures, and the delicious space in between.
About the Author
Saghar Setareh was born in Tehran and moved to Rome in 2007 to study at the Fine Art Academy. She has a popular food and photography blog, Lab Noon and has contributed to Food52, Conde Nast Traveller, and National Geographic. Alongside working as a professional photographer, Saghar runs Persian and Italian cooking classes in cities across Italy. She was among Corriere della Sera’s selection of “50 Women of Food” in 2020.
“Pomegranates and Artichokes is a cookbook, a travelogue, and a master’s class in foodways … A delight for the senses, Pomegranates and Artichokes‘s photographs are jewel-toned images of abundant tables, finished dishes, and phenomenal cultural backdrops. Setareh also uses space, as with the recipes’ headnotes, as a place to muse on personal identity—a territory that transcends concepts of singularity or nationality. Whether she’s discussing the origin of an ingredient or the invisible lives of migrants, her intellectual curiosity chips away at the idea of rigid barriers and borders.” — Foreward, starred review
“[A] 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 … Setareh elegantly spins a web of connections … Gorgeous photography throughout enhances the experience. Setareh’s thoughtful tone and generosity of spirit make this well worth a look.” — Publishers Weekly
Setareh, who runs the blog Lab Noon and teaches cooking across Italy, moved from Iran to Italy when she was a student. In her debut book, she considers the way food migrates, as she did, and what those migrations mean, culturally and historically. She begins in Iran, with an introduction that places readers into its vast and fragrant landscape, offering an explicated pantry and three recipes of note: golden onion, saffron infusion, and Iranian rice. The recipes that follow cover more dishes, building to an Iranian feast and ending with a section on sweets and drinks. Next are 15 recipes from the Eastern Mediterranean and Levant that connect the first and last chapters together, highlighting how the food of one region flows through and across to another. The last section focuses upon Italy and opens with a story of arrival and barriers. The recipes range across aperitifs, special occasions, and sweets. Setareh offers inviting menus at the end that pull from across the landscape of flavors she explores. VERDICT Rich in images and stories, at once accessible to cooks, and crafted for readers, this is a work to cook from and reflect on. Don’t miss it.—Neal Wyatt — Library Journal, Starred Review
With her debut cookbook Pomegranates and Artichokes: Recipes and Memories of a Journey From Iran to Italy, Saghar Setareh guides us on a spirited and soulful culinary journey. Setareh’s stunning photography casts a warm light on the true essence of the people and cuisine of each region. This is not a cookbook lost in the nostalgia of a bygone era, but an invitation to Setareh’s table firmly planted in the here and now. And what a delicious table it is. I can’t wait to get cooking from this beautiful cookbook! — —Naz Deravian, author of Bottom of the Pot: Persian Recipes and Stories
“Quite possibly the most beautiful cookbook I have ever seen." — —Caroline Eden
"I have been following Saghar's work for many years, always hoping that her unique story, her sense of beauty and deliciousness will eventually materialise in a brilliant book. And my wishes have finally come through. Just like the beautiful Iranian tapestries featured in the book, Saghar's food and story is rich with culture, history and beauty. I cannot wait to cook from it and lose myself in its pages." — —Olia Hercules, author of Home Food
“Inspired by her time living in Iran and Italy, food writer and photographer Saghar Setareh explores the similarities between Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cooking. In over 80 recipes, this cookbook celebrates the culinary heritage of both countries while reflecting on her own experiences as an immigrant.” — BookRiot’s Most Anticipated Cookbooks of 2023
"Rich with detail, this beautiful and beautifully written book bridges two culinary worlds and invites us to cook." — —Rachel Roddy, author of An A-Z of Pasta: Stories, Shapes, Sauces, Recipes