- Shirin Simmons
Born in Yazd, Shirin Simmons was the youngest of five children from a middle class Zoroastrian family. Her grandfather, Ostad Kumars, was the author of a book on the culture and food of the country and Shirin’s Mother was a gifted cook who passed on her culinary talent to her daughter. Shirin left Iran in the 1950s to study English in London where she qualified as a nurse and then as a beauty therapist. She also took a course in Art and then returned to live with her parents in the capital city Tehran where she became a teacher and also practised as a nurse.
In her A Treasury of Persian Cuisine, Shirin Simmons brings a great personal warmth to the text, recalling particular dishes and recipes as she encountered them at particular stages in her life. She ties religion, health, politics and family medicine directly to the recipes she describes, and then tells the reader exactly how to prepare them. The emphasis throughout is on fresh ingredients, particularly fruit, nuts, vegetables and pulses, making these recipes ideal for a modern, health conscious western audience.
The qualities and medicinal properties of the ingredients she cites are detailed in depth and their place and relevance in our diet is explained.
Medicine was closely linked to the religions of Zoroastrianism and this was closely linked to diet. The author highlights the significance of particular foods to health and well-being, and explains how these fit in the ancient Persian culture but can also be enjoyed today.
Shirin has been back in London since the 1970s where she enjoys hosting dinner parties and buffets within her circle of friends. Encouraged by her friends enthusiasm for her cooking, she produced her first book in 1988 and since then, the success of her books has continued. It is overwhelming and it seems the demand is not just for the UK or America but it has gone as far as Japan, China and Vietnam beside other countries such as Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. She is currently working on her next book A feast of my Persian Heritage.
A Treasury of Persian Cuisine
Stamford House Publishing; second edition (October 15, 2007)