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The Temporary Bride: A Memoir of Love and Food in Iran

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"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 …"

In her thirties, Jennifer Klinec abandons a corporate job to launch a cooking school from her London flat. Raised in Canada to Hungarian-Croatian parents, she has already travelled to countries most people are fearful of, in search of ancient recipes. Her quest leads her to Iran where, hair discreetly covered and eyes modest, she is introduced to a local woman who will teach her the secrets of the Persian kitchen.

Vahid is suspicious of the strange foreigner who turns up in his mother’s kitchen; he is unused to seeing an independent woman. But a compelling attraction pulls them together and then pits them against harsh Iranian laws and customs.

Getting under the skin of one of the most complex and fascinating nations on earth, The Temporary Bride is a soaring story of being loved, being fed, and the struggle to belong.

211 pages, Paperback

First published September 4, 2014

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Jennifer Klinec

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 185 reviews
Profile Image for Idarah.
464 reviews48 followers
June 13, 2022
 photo image_zpsbbkrtyhl.jpeg

yaaftan (n.): Persian word meaning to find something beautiful in a place where it is least expected or where you had to struggle.

This was a darling little book! It touched on all of the subjects I enjoy reading about most: travel, food, Iran, and looooove. Sigh. I almost don’t want to write anything about it because Klinec unveils herself to readers page by page. You’ll eventually learn where she was born, which countries her parents emigrated from, and how she eventually finds herself globe trekking in search of herself, and the foods that represent family and home in different countries.

What I will say is that she has a way with words and descriptions that can put you both in the kitchen or in an inner city walled garden. This girl can write! I was a nervous wreck throughout because I wasn’t sure if there would be a happy ending or not, and leave it to her to not quiet my anxiety until the last TWO pages! I will leave you with one exerpt–but just the one!

"Iranian rice is unlike any other. It isn’t boiled or steamed or thrown unceremoniously into a rice cooker. Iranian rice is first soaked and bathed like a Hindu princess, rinsed in three changes of just-warm water. It goes into the pot with a spoonful of salt, carefully simmering just until it begins to yield, its determined character and bite remaining intact. Finally it is drained and returned to the pot in a footpool of melted butter, over the gentlest of heat, until it is so impossibly light and fluffy it could fill quilts and pillows of Buckingham Palace."

"Tipped out into a wide, shallow serving bowl, each grain of rice is perfectly separate and served piled high like wedding confetti, adorned with streaks of bright yellow saffron and dotted with a final, loving pat of yet more butter. But the best part of all is still to come: the tahdig. A crisp, buttery golden crust of rice left to scorch on the bottom of the pan to just the right thickness, the tahdig is shattered into gem-like shards and scattered on top of the rice. It crunches and crackles and splinters in your mouth as you eat."

Dang! And that’s just rice. See what I mean? Great read. Definitely up there with other foodie/travel favorites. Highly recommend!
Profile Image for Esil.
1,118 reviews1,340 followers
January 11, 2017
I’m struggling to figure out what bothered me about The Temporary Bride. It is a brief memoir written by the Canadian born author who travels to Iran for the purpose of learning about Iranian cooking but ends up in a forbidden love type of relationship. While learning to cook in the home of an Iranian woman, Klinec and the woman’s son fall into a clandestine relationship. There are things I liked about The Temporary Bride: Klinec’s description of her childhood as the child of immigrants in Ontario, her unconventional fearlessness, her love and description of food, and many of her descriptions of interactions with people in Iran. But there’s something that irked me about the relationship aspect of the book. While Klinec is very explicit about what happened between her and Vahid and she is clear about the risks they took and how their relationship contravened Iranian norms and laws, there is something naïve or arrogant about her attitude. If this was meant to be a book about the complexities of entering into a relationship across a huge cultural divide, there’s a whole piece missing about how big that divide is and the impact of that divide on Klinec, Vahid and Vahid’s family. Rather, the story of the relationship between Klinec and Vahid has the feel of adolescent breathlessness – always searching for a place to be together away from scornful looks. But I think that my main reaction is that I would have preferred the book to focus on the food and cultural aspects of Klinec’s time in Iran. I loved her description of different dishes and how she spent time in the kitchen with Vahid’s mother learning how to cook. I didn’t care so much about her relationship with Vahid. In other words, a bit of a mixed bag of a book for me. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read a copy.
Profile Image for Marie.
143 reviews44 followers
December 23, 2016
This is an interesting little memoir about a young woman who grew up in Ontario and had happy memories of her mother cooking her native food from Yugoslavia. Her mother stopped cooking elaborate meals when their business took off, but Jen forever afterwards sought out interesting foods and cultural traditions surrounding them. As her parents were mostly absent after Jen’s early years, she developed independence young and found opportunities to study abroad both for high school and college. On her breaks, she would visit the most obscure places she could find. In her twenties, she had landed herself in a high paying corporate job, however, there was little love for it. She abandoned this to begin teaching cooking classes out of her tiny flat in London.

In her thirties, she goes on a largely unplanned trip to Iran, hoping to learn more of the culture and Middle Eastern cooking traditions. Immediately, Vahid, an energetic Iranian man, 6 years younger than she, sparks up conversation with her and invites her to his mother’s kitchen. Initially she is put off by him, however with time, a love interest develops. Through this relationship, a glimpse into the cultural rules regarding relationships is thoroughly explored in this land. Their relationship must remain a secret from his family and Iranians at large, until Vahid has the idea of a “temporary marriage.” They go to great lengths to get a Mullah to grant them this, so that they may be allowed to be together and have something to show the police with whom they’ve had many confrontations. Even once they’ve gone public with their relationship, it is not accepted among Vahid’s family and their being seen together causes great consternation in Vahid’s home town of Yazd.

The book quickly shifts from a memoir about a love for food to a memoir about a love for a boy. It is a book about “yaaftan,” finding something beautiful in a place where it is least expected or where you had to struggle. It is about “payvand zadan” the act of locking two things to each other to keep them both safe, an old fashioned word for marriage.

For discussion questions, please see http://www.book-chatter.com/?p=877.
Profile Image for Margitte.
1,164 reviews511 followers
September 8, 2017
I thought this book will be a great food adventure, and it was. This a memoir of a Canadian-born young woman living in London. Jennifer's parents were both immigrants to Canada from Croatia and Hungary. She moved to London where she had her own cooking school and visited different countries to learn more about their food traditions. I loved the idea! So I was in.
I crave food that is important and historical, recipes that have changed little in five hundred years, aside perhaps from the substitution of vegetable oil in place of the sheep’s-tail fat that used to be melted down in pans for cooking. I imagine food smelling of the charred insides of battered cooking vessels and the decades-old smoke of earthenware pots, food cooked by generations of women while their children played at their feet and, eventually, while the world as they knew it crashed in around them. I picture tables graced with the taste of proud, complex lives. Herbs carried in special baskets; bread wrapped in knotted, muslin cloths; thick stews soured with unripe grape juice; carrots boiled with sugar and rosewater; yogurt hung from dripping bags, its whey dried in sheets on trays in the sun. I see the rituals of bread formed by hand, indentations made with fingertips, little hollows shaped to catch pools of oil or broth.
This time she decided to visit Yazd in Iran.

With the food experience came romance, which is okay too. Forgivable, and an interesting spice added to the concoctions. Just imagine: chicken in pomegranate and walnut sauce or fish stew fragrant with fenugreek and tamarind, or oval taftoon bread, coconut-milk soup, long-simmered curry, golden sesame wafers, shooli-a beetroot and vinegar soup, Yazdi cakes, Iranian rice flecked with barberries, jars of homemade pickles.
Iranian rice is unlike any other. It isn’t boiled or steamed or thrown unceremoniously into a rice cooker. Iranian rice is first soaked and bathed like a Hindu princess, rinsed in three changes of just-warm water. It goes into the pot with a spoonful of salt, carefully simmered just until it begins to yield, its determined character and bite remaining intact. Finally it is drained and returned to the pot in a footpool of melted butter, over the gentlest of heat, until it is so impossibly light and fluffy it could fill the quilts and pillows of Buckingham Palace.
If that isn't a love letter I don't know what is, right?

Preparing sheep stomach with cinnamon and almonds, fried in oil, was new to me. It is a highly sought-after dish in our country as well, and in France, and in Germany, and Britain, and...and...and.. and something I often cook for the connoisseurs of our traditional South African cuisine. The soul food of millions of us, to be exact. :-) However, we use different spices and herbs. Remember Trevor Noah's memories in Born a Crime of walkie talkies and smileys? Yep, those sheep's heads (smileys). Walkie talkies are chicken heads and feet.

Here is a Turkish Naan or taftoon bread recipe. It's more or less the same recipe as the Mexican tortilla, but does not contain the oil.

Jennifer Kline demonstrates how to make flat bread in this video

Oh, I am just chipping in here. I'm a cook in heart and soul. I have more cookbooks than any other kind of book and if I am not talking flowers or novels, it will be food from all over the world. I bought my children, two sons and one daughter, cook books as Christmas gifts each year! Apart from other stuff of course. My friends all know what they will receive as gifts too. I know.....don't mention it!

My biggest thrill is to invite friends for dinner and then cook them all kinds of food. We add candles, a few bottles of wine, and the feast is on. The naan, a word that just means bread in its original Persian, is a flatbread native to west, central and southern Asia. In India the water is often replaced with buttermilk, my favorite, or plain yogurt, which is also delicious.

Ok, sorry, back to the book. Packed with anecdotes of her life and family, her social experiences, and her memories of an unforgettable adventure, 31-year-old Jenny told her carnal and culinary tale in a light, funny, thoughtful, considerate, nostalgic realistic, and honest way. Yet, her presence in Vahid's life attracted more attention than they were hoping for and she had to come to terms with the traditions of a country which did not welcome her relationship with the inexperienced 25-year-old man.

Ba namak is what Vahid said about their love affair, perfectly seasoned to their taste. It just did not turn out that way without requiring a high price from them both.

This is a very well-written memoir, reading almost like a high-voltage crime novel! A touch of sensationalism added to the dish of the day, sort of. I was wondering why the grizzly details of a slaughterhouse had to be included. What was the point? The intent? Did not work for me. Highly informative though, especially for readers who might not know how it is done. The eooowwww effect for the unsuspected.

The Freudian approach to her life story, blaming her parents for her rebellion, felt like stale sangak.

And yes, while I did not mind being a voyeur into the culinary adventures in Vahid's mom's kitchen, I did mind to be pushed into the carnal endevours. At one point I wanted to cry out to stop cheapen this otherwise great experience. And for that it loses stars. On the other hand, there will be readers who expect more than just food on a memoir menu. And no, I did not sympathize with the author about anything that happened to them. It was entertaining, for sure, but totally expected. You choose the action, you choose the consequences, as simple as that. I am not even sure that it was a love affair. It is like, if you act like an alley cat, why do you expect not to be treated as one?
Something bothers me...

One other reviewer remarked: The jolt as the story suddenly lurches from an amazing culinary book into this terrible soap opera drama was discomforting, and I very nearly stopped reading at that point. Touché.

The idea of being a temporary Bride was really interesting. However, hard to swallow, in more ways than one. Nevertheless, it involved seeking out a mullah who would grant them status as “temporary” husband and wife and thus protect them from harsh Islamic laws against adultery. Although they were both unmarried, sexual relationships outside marriage could be fatal.

Otherwise a good read, depends on what you expect of a memoir and how willing you are to believe everything you see on paper. The author is an excellent writer, bringing a vibrant landscape alive in all its diverse splendour.

I liked it though. Atmospheric. Well done.
Profile Image for Jenny (Reading Envy).
3,876 reviews3,050 followers
April 1, 2017
This book made me HUNGRY.
"I seek instead the food eaten behind closed doors. The long-simmered stews of chicken with golden plums and quince that sustain husbands after long commutes of two bus changes and a shared taxi, or children weary from school lessons where maths and biology are fitted around compulsory modules on morality and the 'history of the Islamic revolution.' I imagine the lamb braised with pomegranate seeds to be eaten after days of biting tongues and swallowing impatience, served with fistfuls of coriander, plucked by women who sit barefoot on carpets... I crave food that is important and historical..."
Jennifer Klinec is teaching cooking classes in the UK when she travels to Iran to learn more about its food cultures. She is able to take some classes on her own, but a single woman can only go so far in a strict Muslim culture. She finds her way inside a family, and befriends the mother, who teaches her valuable Persian foodways. She learns some of the more subtle behaviors of polite society, often through the mistakes she makes.

Vahid, the son of the household, becomes Jennifer's tour guide. They have to pretend to be cousins when they are (frequently) stopped by authorities, but he is able to get her into places she could not have gotten into on her own - the sheep's head stew cafe, a camel butcher, etc. He is also curious about her. There is one very memorabl scene where he asks her if she is a virgin, and she, horrified, exclaims, "OF COURSE NOT!" without thinking about the expectation of women within his circle of experience. It turns into a love story, but not without a lot of conflict. He expects to marry at 35 or so, and to be a virgin. He is younger than her, of a different religion, a different culture.

She writes openly about the clash of cultural backgrounds and religions, how they navigate through and around them, and how she approaches the loophole of becoming a "temporary bride." A fascinating, memorable, and culturally sensitive reflection on an interesting period of her life!

I discuss more of the book on Episode 083 of the Reading Envy Podcast.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy before the USA edition came out; the book has been available for several years in the UK.
Profile Image for capture stories.
112 reviews64 followers
March 20, 2023

Dear Readers,

Let me share my thoughts on Jennifer Klinec's "The Temporary Bride." While I confess that the novel is the most intriguing, I am somewhat torn in determining a final rating.

On the one hand, Kleiner has fashioned a most captivating story regarding a young woman who journeys to Iran and discovers a romance with a local gentleman. The narrative provides a glimpse into Iranian culture and traditions, and the author's prose is engaging and evocative.

One of the book's highlights is the exploration of Persian food culture. The author has done a fantastic job of introducing us to the delicious cuisine, and I wanted to try many of the dishes mentioned in the book.

However, on the other hand, I must concede that the plotline lacks the depth and intricacy which I was anticipating. While the novel does offer moments of tension and drama, it regrettably fails to achieve the depth and complexity required for a genuinely noteworthy read.

Don't get me wrong, the writing is quite good, and the descriptions of the food will make your mouth water. But if you're looking for a gripping, edge-of-your-seat read, there may be a better one. However, if you're in the mood to peek into another culture's customs, "The Temporary Bride" is worth checking out.

In summation, "The Temporary Bride" showcases Jennifer Klinec's skill as an author and holds promise for her future works. As always, happy reading.
1 review
September 4, 2014
I had the privilege of reading this book and it is an amazing insight into a culture we know so little about.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and Jennifer holds nothing back. She bares her heart and her soul and tells us all she sees and feels. It is funny, romantic, heartbreaking,and shocking but through all of it Jennifer's words guide you to understand how this ancient culture thinks.
Could not stop reading it!
Profile Image for Ali.
1 review
March 28, 2015
The Temporary Bride by Jennifer Klinec was wonderful. My favourite kind of writing, beautiful detailed and evocative descriptions of places, people and food. It is an exploration of the culture of a place that most of us will know very, very little about – Iran. Jennifer Klinec comes to the country to research its food – the owner of a successful cookery school run out of flat in London she regularly went on trips to learn how real people cook in different countries, living with families and paying them to learn exactly how they cooked.

In Iran, Jennifer meets Vahid, an Iranian man who introduces her to his mother for cooking lessons, and begins to take her on a cultural and culinary tour of his city, Yazd. The memoir becomes a love story – of secret encounters, hiding from the religious police, lacking parental acceptance – as unmarried people of different sexes cannot be together unaccompanied in Iran and Vahid’s family would not accept that he might marry a western, non-muslim woman five years his senior.

And so the book is not just atmospheric descriptions of food, but an exploration of what life is like for women in the country, how to conduct a relationship when being caught alone together could result in being arrested, of a clash of cultures and the mixture of hospitality (both traditional and liberal) and hostility that Jennifer encounters.

Negatives? You could criticise the book for not having enough of a storyline – this is a memoir and as such it is not a plot-heavy book. You could argue that the four and a half weeks Jennifer spends in Iran is far too drawn out, that too much is made of it. You can probably tell from my tone here that I wouldn’t agree with those criticisms! While I’m not denying their point, the lack of rushing plot was in no way a negative for me.

I first heard about this book on the wonderful For Books Sake website where it was described as like the “Iranian equivalent of Joanne Harris’ Chocolat” – it was this description that drew me in and made me want to read the book!

I loved it and found it totally gripping!
Profile Image for Susan.
2,644 reviews598 followers
August 11, 2014
Subtitled, "a memoir of love and food in Iran," this is part biography, part a love letter to cooking. Jennifer Klinec was raised in Canada by loving, but benignly neglectful parents. Wrapped up in themselves and in their business, Jennifer's first memory of her mother's kitchen is being chased out of it. Yet, despite her early experience of not being made to feel welcome, she grew up into an independent and well travelled woman, finally settling in London where she eventually gave up banking and gave into her desire to work with her love of cooking - creating her own company and giving cookery lessons in her apartment.
In her desire to learn new skills, Jennifer travelled far and wide, collecting recipes and trying different foods from around the world. One of the countries she wanted to visit was Iran and we follow her on her travels to this little known, and often misunderstood, country. A country which has changed so much in fairly recent times, becoming as wary towards visitors as they are perceived by them. Jennifer finds Iran a beautiful and welcoming place, although she struggles with the religious rules and cultural codes that she is unused to.
Once in Iran, by chance Jennifer meets a young man called Vahid and he invites her to visit his home. During the weeks which follow, Jennifer helps Vahid's mother in her kitchen and what follows is both a love affair with Iranian food and the blossoming of a love affair between her and Vahid. During this time he takes her on a food tour of Iran, including the rather bizarre (and not very reomantic) choice of a slaughter house where she witnesses camels being killed for their meat.
This is evocatively written, beautifully and sensitively portrayed and really lifts the veil on a little known country and way of life in the West. However, despite the problems that Jennifer experiences, she writes of what happens to her and of Iran with love, humour and understanding. This would make a wonderful choice for book groups, with lots to discuss.
Lastly, I received a copy of this book from the publishers, via NetGalley, for review.
Profile Image for Kathy.
1 review1 follower
May 29, 2015
I found this book utterly fascinating. I was completely drawn in to the author's amazing travels, and it opened up a whole world of travel and cooking for me, particularly to a country I'd never have considered visiting.

The love story was so unconventional, so surprising and yet so beautiful. I was totally caught up in watching it all unfold.

A wonderful read - I shared it with my book group and some of the ladies said it was their favourite of all the books we've read this year.

I hope the author will continue to write more and invite me into her amazing world again.
Profile Image for Ulrika.
1 review1 follower
December 24, 2014
I LOVED this book. It had me hooked from the get go. Jennifer Klinec has led an absolutely extraordinary life (so far) and her description of the food and people of Iran were simply beautiful. I will DEFINITELY be rereading this book, and I highly recommend it. I hope she puts out a cookbook about Iranian cuisine.
Profile Image for Linda.
1 review
March 28, 2015
Absolutely loved this book, the way she writes, the food, the descriptions. Brilliant.
The author was so brave in sharing herself and her incredible story.
1 review
March 7, 2015
Such a great read! I loved how the author, Jennifer, writes with such honesty and self-examination about her feelings for Vahid and their perilous relationship. This love story does not start off easy, and I found Jennifer's initial assessment of Vahid and his gruffness quite amusing. As the book unfolds and Jennifer and Vahid's feelings for each other become more complex, it was sweet to see how Vahid's gruffness faded and was instead replaced by earnest love and doting affection. Food lovers - rejoice!! The countless descriptions of culinary dishes that Jennifer prepares or enjoys are divine! At times I felt like I was in the kitchen with her and Vahid's mom measuring rice, chopping herbs, and toasting nuts. You can tell she is very passionate about food, which is so refreshing in this era of frozen foods and takeaways. Overall, an extremely well-written, beautifully lyrical book.
Profile Image for Bethany.
1 review
March 28, 2015
I have just finished 'The Temporary Bride' and was absolutely in love with the story. If there is ever a movie I will be first in line. I don't think there is a way the author could have more beautifully described Iran and its people.

I am also SO pleased to see a heading 'That Rice' on Jennifer's website! I guess I wasn't the only one who vowed to try and recreate it after reading the book!

A truly beautiful story about love, food, and reaching across cultural boudaries.
Profile Image for Stella.
1 review1 follower
March 28, 2015
I have always been attracted to Iran so to read this book was to travel there vicariously. The only thing missing was the recipes for the food that the author was describing. I desperately went to Jennifer’s website hoping that she would list some of the recipes for me to try – only the amazing rice recipe was listed.
Profile Image for Anne.
2,097 reviews1,035 followers
February 22, 2015
Books and food are my main loves, and anything that combines the two has to be a winner for me. to combine these with adventures in an exotic, far-away setting adds more to the allure of a book, so, for me, The Temporary Bride was impossible to resist.

Jennifer Klinec has led an unusual life. She spent much of her childhood being ignored by her wealthy parents who led busy lives. Although Jennifer wanted to spend time with her mother in the kitchen, her earliest memories are of her being chased out of the room whilst her mother prepared the meals. Her parents were not intentionally cruel, and Jennifer used their attitude to their advantage. She travelled the world, organising her own schooling and her lodgings herself, she went where she wanted to go, and these experiences shaped her and strengthened her character.

Back in London, Jennifer had a successful career in the City. Having spent time collecting recipes and trying all sorts of different foods in many different parts of the world, Jennifer decided to open a small cookery school in her little flat in London. Whilst this was a success, and her customers enjoyed learning new skills, Jennifer still had the bug. She wanted to discover more cookery methods, from places that women didn't travel to.

Iran. A country so very different to anything that Jennifer had experienced. Where women cover their heads and spend their days cooking the traditional foods. Where women wear make up and style their hair and wear fashionable clothes .... but only within the safety of their own family, and never outdoors. Iran, where the authorities and the Police can stop and question anyone, where bribery and corruption is rife. Iran, the place that Jennifer yearned to visit.

Having managed to find a family that would allow her to cook with them, Jennifer was delighted to learn about Iranian food, and culture. The son of the house, Vahid, was initially suspicious of Jennifer, he was rude and arrogant, but it becomes clear that he is also intrigued by her. Here is a woman who is independent, who is well travelled and intelligent, and is also attractive. As Jennifer and Vahid spend more time together they grow closer, and this is where her story becomes more of an adventure.

Jennifer Klinec writes wonderfully, her love for food, her descriptions of some ingredients that should really turn the stomach are made delicious with her use of words. The reader is transported to the back streets of Iranian towns and cities, to the small family-run cafes that serve wonderfully rich and spicy food to local people.

The complexity of life in Iran is clear and fascinating, the daily struggles, especially for women are described in full, with authority and with compassion, and sometimes with exasperation and a little anger. The emerging love story between Jennifer and Vahid grows slowly, yet only takes place over four weeks.

I enjoyed The Temporary Bride, I enjoyed the writing and I enjoyed seeing and experiencing life in Iran. The culture, the towns, the fear, the ignorance and most of all, the food. Jennifer Klinec is a fine writer who has written a heart-warming and vivid story of food and of love.
Profile Image for Andrea.
771 reviews30 followers
February 28, 2021
When Canadian expat Jennifer Klinec abandons her lucrative career in finance to open a cooking school in her London warehouse apartment, she is doing nothing less than following her passion. A self-taught cook, she is also well-travelled, and often closes the school for a while to seek out fresh new recipes and ideas in foreign lands. To prepare for her first trip to Iran, Jennifer learnt a little Farsi and dreamed of the dishes she was hoping to try - from chicken in walnut & pomegranate sauce to fish stew with fenugreek & tamarind. But most of all she was excited about the rice!

I have precise ambitions, one more specific than all. I want to eat that most famous of Iranian delicacies: I want to eat Iranian rice.

Iranian rice is unlike any other. It isn’t boiled or steamed or thrown unceremoniously into a rice cooker. Iranian rice is first soaked and bathed like a Hindu princess, rinsed in three changes of just-warm water. It goes into the pot with a spoonful of salt, carefully simmered just until it begins to yield, its determined character and bite remaining intact. Finally it is drained and returned to the pot in a footpool of melted butter, over the gentlest of heat, until it is so impossibly light and fluffy it could fill the quilts and pillows of Buckingham Palace.

Tipped out into a wide, shallow serving bowl, each grain of rice is perfectly separate and served piled high like wedding confetti, adorned with streaks of bright yellow saffron and dotted with a final, loving pat of yet more butter. But the best part of all is still to come: the tahdig. A crisp, buttery, golden crust of rice left to scorch on the bottom of the pan to just the right thickness, the tahdig is shattered into gem-like shards and scattered on top of the rice. It crunches and crackles and splinters in your mouth as you eat.

So, yes this is a foodie memoir, and Klinec writes very enticingly about the food (she writes very well, more generally). By page 6 I was already reaching for the Persian cookbook I was reading concurrently, hoping it might contain pictures of the dishes she was describing. But, as it says in the subtitle, it's a memoir of food and love, and I actually thought that overall the focus was more skewed towards the relationship she developed with Vahid, the son of one of her Iranian home cook/teachers. Culturally this was really interesting and surprising in some respects, and Klinec was generously open about many of the details. As much as I enjoyed that, in my mind I was always urging her back into the kitchen though!

Well worth reading, either for the food or the cultural insight, but perfect to read for both.
Profile Image for Bodicia.
209 reviews20 followers
January 21, 2015
This memoir is fascinating on so many levels! Firstly if you love exotic food then you must read it. Jennifer is a chef who left the corporate world behind to start her own business giving exotic cooking lessons in London and she gives such wonderful descriptions of food that I almost contemplated a plate of offal and I can’t stand the stuff! Her love of food comes through so well, I could taste it, every mouthful.

Secondly, there is the moving and poignant story of her relationship with the country of Iran. I learnt so much about Persian customs and traditions, things I never imagined. She tells of the way the people live and the hardships they face socially in their everyday lives and, of course, the food they eat which couldn’t be more different than what is on my own dinner table.

Thirdly there is the moving tale of her relationship with Vahid. I was gripped by this. His attitude could be very alien when compared to the men I know but still strangely compelling in some ways. The relationship caused them so many difficulties. Things we take for granted, like being able to hold hands in public with the person we love, are forbidden and some things can result in imprisonment or even death. In a country where women are seen as chattels and for the eyes of their menfolk only, this made it a difficult read sometimes for this British woman but knowledge is power.
Profile Image for Lou Theunissen.
1 review2 followers
December 5, 2014
When finishing "The Temporary Bride" I realized that the one-but-last time I cried when reading a novel was 30 years ago. Only Jennifer Klinec managed to evoke these emotions again with her memoirs of love and food in Iran. It is well written: detailed when needed, funny, interesting and at the same time full of true and understandable experiences of deep valleys.
At the same time Klinec never looses herself in judgements against the Iranian culture or the habits of the people she meets. She just observes positively and critically what happens to her during her travel through the country.
This book should be translated into farsi and published in Iran. It could very well become a local bestseller and Klinec could become an ambassador for tolerance and cultural integration. But she will probably choose to stick to her hobby and work: cooking foreign recipes.
August 14, 2014

I loved this book. I was fully wrapped up in it from beginning to end and found the progression of the story, especially the romance between the two characters really compelling. The story is just so unique and interesting, not only from the cultural perspective, but the author's honesty blew me away. The way she lets herself be vulnerable, the way she lays everything out bare - I could see and feel it all.
A real gem of a book that will stay with you for days
September 8, 2014
I feel like I have just been to Iran! Jennfier's truely grasped life by the scruff of the neck & given it a good old shake. She is brave & vulnerable, all in one breath. Her journey to Iran is not to be missed. She left me wanting more. What happened next Jennifer? The epilogue reveals there is so much more to say.
Profile Image for Christine.
6,619 reviews480 followers
February 28, 2017
I think I would have enjoyed this far more if it had been one of two things. Either just about the food, or a chronicle a relationship that develops between two different people. If it was going to be a chronicle of the relationship, I actually think the story would have been far more interesting if it had been written by both Klinec and her husband.
Profile Image for Jo Kessel.
Author 7 books227 followers
September 10, 2014
4.5 stars
This book took me completely by surprise. It is not the usual type of book that I read. It is an autobiographical memoir of a cooking trip to Iran - but it is about so much more than just food. It is about love and a love affair which gives us a fascinating glimpse into a different culture. It is about a love which you would imagine could never happen in real life.............but can it?!
The writing was beautiful. I could smell the food and the scenery - everything was brought beautifully to life and visual. It was a truly fascinating read and I would love nothing more than for Jennifer to cook me a gorgeous Iranian meal!
40 reviews
August 25, 2014
The Temporary Bride is half food memoir and half romance (with a bit of adventure travel thrown in). In her early 30s, author Jennifer Klinec heads to Iran to learn everything she can about Persian food. The descriptions of the dishes were mouthwatering, I only wish they had included some recipes. There's a forbidden romance and I can imagine that this book will be compared to Eat Pray Love. But it's the cool, interesting version instead. Klinec is a skilled writer and her passion for travel, food and new experiences is inspiring.
Profile Image for Tanya Searle.
52 reviews3 followers
May 14, 2015
An absolutely beautiful love story exploring a culture that is a mystery to me. What an amazing insight into Iranian life! Jennifer made you feel that you were living and breathing the experience with her. Vahid is at times surprising, but as you get to know him his gruffness and honesty is endearing. Loved this book from the beginning to end.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
3,612 reviews2,580 followers
February 9, 2016
Canadian-born Klinec had travelled the world and founded her own cookery school in London, but it was on a trip to Iran to gather Persian recipes that she unexpectedly fell in love. Two stories unfurl in parallel: Klinec’s culinary education and her surprising romance with Vahid. For the former, she learned traditional dishes and sampled all kinds of street food, from kaleh pacheh, a sheep innard soup, to pastries. She even visited a camel slaughterhouse. Her favorite recipe of all, though, was Persian rice, steamed for at least an hour so that it develops a lovely, buttery crust, often served with broad beans and pistachios.

My slight problem with this book is that it concentrates heavily on the love affair theme, perhaps to the detriment of the food writing. The uneven nature of their relationship made me uncomfortable. Vahid taught her assertive language so she could demand a couple of visa extensions. Still, their time together in Iran only amounted to four and a half weeks in total. When I realized this I felt that Klinec was drawing out a thin storyline as long as possible. The sections about dealing with Iranian bureaucracy can also be repetitive and tedious.

See my full review at The Bookbag.

Related reading:

If you have an interest in cross-cultural marriage, I highly recommend My Accidental Jihad by Krista Bremer, in which religion plays a larger role.

Risotto with Nettles by Anna del Conte is another enjoyable ‘memoir with food’.
Profile Image for Chac.
6 reviews1 follower
April 23, 2015
A tantalizing read, which gripped me forcefully and made a discernible indentation into my spirit. JK demonstrates impeccable eloquence as she packs you into her well-worn suitcase and takes you with her as she embarks on a most compelling adventure, past the curtains & veils of Iran and the Persian culture. Her overly descriptive present tense writing style is very effective - you sense the rhythm of her heartbeat, every measured breath, every imprint of her step, you taste every dish she helps create & voraciously masticates chased down with an assortment of beverages, feel every drop of perspiration in the scorching desert heat, experience every minute she stares into the abyss of hope interjected by utter despair, yoked with her as she daringly steps into the unknown immediate moment, oscillating helplessly along the axis of hope & faith ...and finally love! To love this way is to know God. I could hardly put this book down, which surprised me. Moments after reading a copy from the local library, I was on Amazon and speedily threw the last 2 available copies into my cart. They make for perfect gifts for my friends.
Profile Image for Fab Librarian.
86 reviews2 followers
February 20, 2015
It’s true that just by reading a book you can feel absolutely transported to another country. As I devoured this memoir I could almost smell and taste the wonderful food of Iran (and the hunger pangs it inspired didn’t do much for my diet!).

In her thirties Jennifer Klinec decides to leave her well-paid corporate job in London to set up her own cookery school. Her passion for food also sends her all over the world to discover recipes handed down from generation to generation. In Iran she spends time with a local woman learning to cook Persian food in the family home. At first her relationship with the son, Vahid, is awkward and difficult but they are increasingly drawn together and a fascinating relationship develops.

This was a wonderfully sensual and engaging book and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Profile Image for Ellen.
507 reviews11 followers
April 28, 2015
I won this book in a Goodreads First-reads giveaway and I absolutely loved it! Thank you Goodreads...and thank you Jennifer Klinec for this gem of a novel! This book opened up a whole new world to me and took me on a wonderful cultural journey of the heart. I almost feel like I have travelled to Iran myself. I could taste, smell, feel the experience of life there...and it is written so lovingly, tenderly, and with such honesty. This book was a beautiful, richly-layered surprise for me...not at all what I was expecting! Very highly recommended!

3 reviews1 follower
May 7, 2015
Jennifer's book was an automatic choice as who could resist a mixture of food and a cross cultural love story? The book was a delightful read and I found that I had to go back and read it again as I felt that I was only reading it at a superficial level the first time around. The book has amazing depth allowing you to almost taste the food and feel the discomfort of being the stranger in a different culture. I won't give away any of the story as it was such a joy to allow the events to slowly unravel.
A great read from such a young and well travelled writer.
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