The Year In Food » Fine Seasonal Eating

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When I was a teenager, my first real job was at a local cafe and bakery. They were well-loved in the community: for their wedding cakes, their fancy pastries, and their delightful and new-to-me Persian treats. I learned on my first day to not smear brown avocado on a sandwich (duh!); I learned what Dutch crunch bread was. I discovered Persian desserts, cooling and fragrant with rose water: faloodeh and balmieh, and I fell in love with zoolbia, a deep-fried treat whose crisp shell burst with a sweet rose water syrup.

I remember listening to the owner in conversation with his friends while he painstakingly decorated marzipan-sheathed wedding cakes, or worked out layer upon layer of a delicious sesame-specked flatbread, barbari. Sometimes, folks would come in on a Sunday morning and buy 5 or 10 at a time. Once, he remarked out of the blue, glass of water in hand, All we need in life is water and bread. That has always stayed with me.

Sometimes, it seemed, the entire local Persian community would come through on a weekend, to stock up on their favorite desserts, and that amazing flatbread, to say hello to friends and gossip about who was getting married.

What I don’t remember, though, is anyone at the cafe talking about how or why they came to the United States from Iran. I think we tend to forget that Iran, a country so deeply mischaracterized and politicized in the United States, is the same cultural powerhouse that was Persia, with all of its art, commerce, philosophy, poetry. Their food ways are as rich and nuanced as their history. Why did so many Iranians come here? The story of Iran’s revolution, and the many thousands of people who were forced to leave in the late 70s, is a hard one. Let’s not follow their lead.

Rick Steves says it best: Most Iranians, like most Americans, simply want a good life and a safe homeland for their loved ones.

Here’s the thing: this is a country of immigrants. Except for the native people who were here first, among which few of us can lay claim, most of us hold family stories of an uncomfortable or perhaps frightening journey, away from what we have known and loved, away from our community, our people, our food, our language, our place, to another place. Let’s remember that we are humans, first and foremost, with the same needs, desires, and hopes. Let’s not let petty tribalism get in the way. We are better than that.

Immigrant Food Stories: A group of food bloggers collaborated on a series of posts to share stories of immigrants through the lens of food. This is the beginning of a new series. Interested in joining? Let me know.

Our first round of stories: 

Nicole Gulotta, Eat This Poem

Lily Diamond, Kale & Caramel

Karen Chan, Honestly YUM

Emma Galloway, My Darling Lemon Thyme


Adapted from Louisa Shafia’s The New Persian Cuisine 

(And read her lovely essay on her trip to Iran last year.)

The only thing I was unable to find for these amazing little fritters were dried rose petals, alas. If you can find them locally, add two tablespoons. I love how flavorful these are for being so simple. I love that they are inherently gluten-free; the chickpea flour’s distinctive, nutty flavor is perfect here. And what a great way to make use of winter squash at the end of its season.

1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped

3 green onions, diced

2 cups grated winter squash (butternut, acorn, etc)

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup chickpea flour

1 teaspoon ground cumin

Sea salt

1 cup crumbled Feta

Olive oil or ghee

Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the walnuts and the green onions. Add the squash, eggs, flour, cumin, sea salt and black pepper and mix thoroughly. Gently fold in the Feta.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add enough olive oil to coat. Drop heaping tablespoons of the batter into the pan, giving about one inch of space between each. Flatten gently with a fork, and cook for about 3 minutes per side, until golden and crisped. You may need to lower the heat as you go. Drain the fritters on paper towels, and place in the warmed oven.

To serve, top each fritter with a dollop of yogurt. Enjoy!


Fear is the cheapest room in the house.

I would like to see you living

In better conditions,


For your mother and my mother

Were friends.

– Hafiz


  • Samantha @ FerraroKitchen - These are beautiful and thank you for sharing your thoughts! Every recipe has a story and we need to share it :)ReplyCancel

  • Taste of France - I remember the Iranian revolution and the storming of the U.S. embassy. And the students who fled to the U.S. later and were in classes with me. One of my favorite restaurants is Persian, and my favorite dish there is fesenjan, chicken in a walnut and pomegranate sauce. Fantastic.
    Your story is touching. I will make your fritters with this tale in mind. (BTW, I make vegetable fritters all the time–you can do them with almost anything–zucchini, beets, carrots, you name it!)ReplyCancel

  • Abby @ Heart of a Baker - This one resonated with me, my husband’s family came to the US after the revolution and faced so many hardships, even after they arrived here. It’s amazing how much we can learn and glean from other cultures, and I love diversity for that. Thanks for organizing this (wish I could have gotten a post up for it) and speaking out, you are a gem! xoReplyCancel

  • Louisa Shafia - Thank you for sharing this Kimberley! I am heartened by how so many people like you are reaching out to embrace otherness, in a time when the highest office in government is encouraging Americans to do the opposite. Oh my gosh I cannot read even a snippet of that Hafiz poem without crying, it cuts right to the heart in the best way.ReplyCancel

  • Lola Bellouere - These look absolutely delicious! xReplyCancel

  • Liz @ Floating Kitchen - Thanks for helping to organize all this. I’m so glad we can all come together to share our stories. I was certainly a bit nervous to share mine today, but it’s powerful and important. Silence kills. And I don’t think we can afford to be silent. These fritters sounds super delicious. Can’t wait to try them out. XOXO.ReplyCancel

  • Taylor - We love LOVE your Blog and food!ReplyCancel

  • Cindy - This is a great idea. I would love to participate somehow, someway. I have a wonderful story of my in-laws who immigrated from Colombia and they cherish living here in the United States. Let me know how I can join?!?!ReplyCancel

  • Lynn McMahan - Thank you for this lovely post and organizing others. It is easy to forget the beauty in those around us. The recipe looks delicious too;-)ReplyCancel

  • Lynn McMahan - Thank you Kimberly for this beautiful post. It is so easy to forget the beauty in those around us.ReplyCancel

  • Carlos At Spoonabilities - Kimberley, Thank you for sharing your story in such amazing way. As an Inmigrant your story touches my heart.
    Question – Can I do the fritters without frying? I know kind of stupid question, but I would love to make it on the oven.ReplyCancel

  • Caroline - So beautifully said, Kimberley. Thank you for sharing that story. The passion that immigrants can bring to our melting pot only enriches us more. Like the passion of those bakery owners…it’s just so inspiring.ReplyCancel

  • Fernando @ Eating With Your Hands - “… Iran, a country so deeply mischaracterized and politicized in the United States…” – spot on.

    My wife is from Iran and I’ve been there a few times, and that sentence is one of the truest statements one can make. Thanks for your post.ReplyCancel

  • Limner - “Here’s the thing: this is a country of immigrants. Except for the native people who were here first, among which few of us can lay claim, most of us hold family stories of an uncomfortable or perhaps frightening journey, away from what we have known and loved, away from our community, our people, our food, our language, our place, to another place.” This simply is not true. Some people persist in perpetuating the myth that this is a country of immigrants while overlooking the worst part of our country’s history, which is slavery. Young America was built on the backs, blood and sweat of Africans. Why they are deliberately ignored is beyond my ken.

    Every immigrant who comes to this country owes those people an incredible debt. They should not be ignored. They did not migrate here. There were brought in chains. You might be surprised to learn when they were no longer consider to be mom allegiance to their former masters before they were even allowed to be counted as citizens.

    Very few Afro-Americans can trace their ancestry to their native people, but their contributions to the arts, agriculture, medicine, etc., along with the retention of some of their native foods they brought with them have become part of America’s cuisines.

    Please, remember those who had no choice but were forced to come as slave labor.ReplyCancel

    • Kimberley - Yes, I totally agree with you, and I’m really sorry that I overlooked this. After hitting publish, I realized that I had completely ignored this huge part of America’s history, and I’m really embarrassed that I did. It was not deliberate at all, but I am still embarrassed that I did. Thank you for reminding me to acknowledge this.ReplyCancel

  • Alanna Taylor-Tobin - This is a beautiful post in all ways Kimberley – thank you so much for starting this movement. I especially love the Hafiz quote at the end. And I want those fritters, bad.ReplyCancel

  • Carlton L. Barnes - I just loved the recipe after i cooked for the first time this year :D. Really appreciated for the simple recipe yet awesomely represented. Lots of wishes for the next one.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah - I love the crispy chili flavor food. Nice work…..ReplyCancel

  • Arron - Beautiful and innovative ideas are always appreciated. Thanks for this recipe.ReplyCancel

  • Wesley Mcclung - Hmm.. Yamiee……
    So simple and so on. Loved the idea…ReplyCancel

  • Deandra - I like your site very much. Lots of information you provided and the excellent part is people are engaging with you. This feels actually good when you comment back. Thanks for sharing and also engaging with us.ReplyCancel

  • Boxon - Hmmm .. i never thought that food made with simple materials can look very luxurious when served. Thanks for sharing your recipes and ideas for organizing dishes on the plate :)ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth Higgins - Wow Kimberley! Thanks for sharing a bit of your teenage life with us. ‘All we need in life is water and bread’ makes so much sense. Persian food is truly flavorful and aromatic that I try making them from time to time. This winter squash recipe you shared sounds pretty easy to make. Question, would you substitute Feta with any of these cheeses – Ricotta, Halloumi, or Queso Fresco? Cheers!ReplyCancel

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