As a first generation Jewish Iranian American, I wanted to find a way to both document and better understand how all the conflicting parts of my identity coalesce. Cooking, but mostly eating, Iranian cuisine has helped me better understand what it means to be Iranian, Jewish, and American post-Revolution and post-assimilation to American culture.
I photographed, wrote, and designed two books chronicling the culinary and personal history of my grandmother Mahboobeh, my mother Mersedeh, and soon my own.
In mahboobeh and mersedeh, I interviewed my remaining grandparent Mahboobeh and my mother Mersedeh to discuss our family history and their individual memories through food. I endeavored to better understand my identity and heritage through the recipes and stories that have been passed down through generations. I contend with my own disinterest in cooking and my attempts to undue assimilation in a third book, candice, that is soon to follow to complete a trilogy about women in my family.
I have spent my adult life reclaiming my heritage, grasping for my family’s unique history, language, religion, and culture. This pair of books is meant to preserve this history while also bringing it into modern discourse.
All the Farsi in each book is each woman’s handwriting, and the color palette of each is inspired by the dishes discussed and prepared.
The two books were featured in the group show “…from the dry wind we hear an echo” organized by SWANA, Southwest Asia North Africa, at CalArts in 2019. In addition to exhibiting my work, I designed the poster and exhibition catalogue for the show. Below are some photos from the opening party with my parents and grandmother :)