It takes some time to produce a new food and travel book. Two years ago I began my project and now, with much excitement, I have in my hands a pre- sale copy of the finished book -“Pardiz, a Persian food journey”, what a wonderful feeling!
The book will be released in Australia on 1st November, in the UK on 14th November, in the USA on 19th November. It will be available in translation in Dutch and German editions in early February next year.
Now it is finished, I think back to all the decisions I had to make at the outset – where to go ? what recipes to include ? What would be the story-line of the book? I also had to delve into my past and look at all the old black-and-white photos my father took when my family were living in Tehran in the 1950s. Then the time came to go back to Iran for the final research and local photography of the countryside, the people, the bazaars and markets, the cities and the villages. We had to put together a team on the ground – a guide, a photographer and a driver. How would we pay our local team, hotels and restaurants when no credit cards or direct transfer payments are possible in Iran? What should we pack? What should I wear in a country with a strict dress code for women?
There is always a lot of planning and organising in producing a book, but “Persia” was a special challenge.
The time I spent in Iran was absolutely magical. I tried to revisit many places I went with my family in the 50s. Some had disappeared – my family home in Tehran had been swamped in a jungle of high-rises – but as soon as you go into the country side, much less has changed and all the magic memories came back .
Most memorable of all was the kindness and generosity of the people. Seldom have I felt so welcome in a country. People were politely curious about what we were doing. Did we like Iran? How about the people? Did we like the food ?
When you passed people having a picnic (and believe me Persians just love a picnic which they believe is a Persian invention ) you had to accept at least a cup of chai or a biscuit.
After coming back from our trip, Michele and I went to the village of Sils Maria in the Engadine Valley in the Swiss Alps, where we buried ourselves in all the notes, recipes, photographs, bits and pieces picked up here and there, and started to write the book.
This is my desk in Sils Maria
All the recipes are spread out on the floor as I worked out what chapter to put them in.
A large-scale taste test, trying out the recipes on my family at a lunch in Zurich
Then I started cooking for the food photography which was done at home in Sydney.
Here Simon Griffiths, the photographer, and Klarissa Pfisterer, the book designer at work. This is the team from my six previous books and we work so well together.
Then we had to make the final selection from hundreds of photographs to include in the book – a mammoth job.
With Klarissa we worked on design and layout, all the details of presentation, what the cover should be and what paper to choose. The list is endless, but I loved every minute of it. I hope you too will enjoy the finished book.