The Temporary Bride

temporary bridePublished: 2015
Author: Jennifer Klinec

A feast for the senses


I learned a new word today – sonder. It’s the realisation that each random passer-by is living a life as vivid and complex as your own. It’s a lovely word and feeling. We walk past people on the street and we know nothing about their lives, they don’t exist in full form to us the way that our friends and families do. We can only know the truth about the lives of others if they allow us in. Jennifer Klinec’s memoir, The Temporary Bride: A Memoir of Love and Food in Iran, allows us such an insight into her fascinating life and search for love, belonging and great food.

Klinec is a Canadian living in London and runs a cookery school, bringing taste and skills from across the world to a sometimes reluctant audience. The book briefly relates her childhood and adolescence as the daughter of Eastern European immigrants but the main story focuses on her trip to Iran.  Here she experiences first hand Iranian cuisine, learning skills from locals and embarks on an affair with Vahid, a younger man whose mother is teaching Jennifer how to cook authentic Yazdi meals.

There are two distinct passionate love stories here – one, an affair with food told in the most delicious and mouth-watering terms and the other, the description of an affair that seems to be doomed by cultural differences and Iranian bureaucracy. I’ll be honest, I preferred the first story but then I’m not a romantic person. Klinec has a wonderful turn of phrase when describing food and the cooking process – her depiction of Iranian rice being bathed like a Hindu Princess actually had me gasping at how exotic and beautiful it sounded. I’m delighted that her website has cooking instructions – I will try to do it justice one day. Her obvious passion for food and cooking comes across strongly and made me as the reader want to try some of the exotic dishes she describes. Not the sheep’s eyeballs though – nothing will make me want to try that.

The affair between Jennifer and Vahid was no less well written, it was honest and passionate – even when it wasn’t entirely comfortable to read as a British woman. Vahid’s attitude towards Klinec made me (and her) flinch several times as it becomes clear that he very much regards her as his subordinate. It doesn’t stop their affair being utterly compelling and passionate.

The Temporary Bride is absolutely wonderful. It feeds the senses with its evocative and mouthwatering descriptions of food and it opens up the mind to Iran, a country of which many in the West have only a limited impression. I really enjoyed this book and am grateful for the glimpse into the world of such a fascinating woman.

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