While searching for more info about the spring-time celebration of "No Ruz," I discovered a fascinating book at the local library called, "From Persia to Napa - Wine at the Persian Table," by Najmieh Batmanglij.
Being a native to the San Francisco Bay Area, the title caught my attention immediately. Anyone who has grown up in this region of California can tell you that there was a time when Napa Valley was just "plain old Napa" as in a little town in a valley all in a world of its own away from the City and other places.
Ever since the 1980's the entire Northern California wine growing area has become extremely popular and more world-famous. So, it was to my delight that I was able to find the book and to learn that the Darioush Winery specializes in Persian cuisine and culture. And this is wonderful because Persian food is delightful and what so many people do not know is that Persia and that part of the world (which is now referred to as Iran), is where historians say civilization as we know it, began.
Often referred to by some historians as "the Fertile Crescent," that area of the globe is where Western Culture got most of its ideas regarding just about every aspect of life, from farming, irrigation, (wind mills) to art, government and yes even some of our forms of religion. Belief in "one-God" is a concept that goes far back, think of The Magi and you get the idea.
In her well-written, illustrated and lavishly produced book, Batmanghli as author and chef brings out the best of this ancient culture. Complete with recipes and historical facts and references, "From Persia to Napa" is a fascinating journey rich with details about a way of living that everyday people only dream about.
Batmanglij points out the exotic, yet simple ingredients that help to make an abundant table and a gracious life possible.
For those who like wine, food and world history, this book is worth reading and also fits nicely on the coffee table. Yet, for cooks and wine lovers the book will most likely be in the kitchen. Recipes for entrees like "Polow dar man-e lavash will have food-lovers eager to try one of Najmieh Batmanglij's creations. "Polow dar man-e lavash, translates to Chicken, Apricot and rice in a pie pastry. That sounds yummy. I wonder if our local Persian Restaurant here in the neighborhood, called "Lavash" serves that dish?