Koby was just fifteen when the bullets whistled over his head while crossing illegally the border of Iran on his way to freedom.
Iran, after the Islamic revolution wasn't sometimes a safe or pleasant place for the Jewish Iranians who remained living there and didn't leave it earlier. Koby was living with his parents and family in Isfahan, Iran, and was suffering anti-Semitic acts such as violence or derogatory like being called as: "Jude". On 1988, nine years after the Islamic revolution, Koby decided to take his destiny with his own hands and joined a group of Jewish Iranians which hired a smuggler in order to help them to cross the Iranian border on their way to freedom, to the holy land, to the State of Israel. At first they crossed the dangerous mountainous roads with a worn-out pickup on their way to Pakistan and they were discovered by an Iranian military patrol. Koby could smell the death while the soldiers were shooting on them and he was asking himself if that was the destiny of a young man like him. At some point the smuggler even left them alone in the desert and went to bring some assistance and they thought he left them forever.
Koby's story, along with other seventeen stories revealed in a new book, reveals not only fascinating stories but also photos and authentic recipes of Persian food given by the heroes of this book. Actually one can fix a whole meal out of the book, starting with the first dish and ending with the dessert. Especially on the rich and tasty Persian cuisine, makes me thinking about Iran's race for the atomic bomb. I was wondering whether the Iranian leadership will be smart enough to change its strategy to cop the world. Sometimes the road to control someone goes thru his stomach, thru his desire for good food.
You wouldn't believe how much the Persian cuisine is rich and tasty. There are so many delicious dishes which are almost unbelievable, mixed with meat, rice, vegetables and more. Take for example the colorful, deep and rich soup called "Ghorme Sabzi" or the upside down rice with the "Thadik", crunchy potato slices. When you taste it for the first time in your life you will long to taste it again and again and to get drunk by the smell of the saffron. Most of the Jewish Iranians who immigrated to Israel are still longing for their roots. They are cooking Persian food, talking Farsi, listening to Iranian singers and watching shows, not only from Los Angeles, where's a lot of Jewish Iranians settled there but also from Israel. There are few radio and T.V. stations in Israel which are broadcasting in the Farsi language and many of its listeners are from Iran itself, Muslims not Jewish. The problem sometimes in our modern life is not the people but the regime. Many Iranians whom I met during my life, when traveling abroad, showed a lot of interest in Israel, about our way of life. Plenty Iranians would easily adopt the western cultures and forget the other way which their regime is trying to offer them. They share the same dreams and desires like all of us.
I even met a beautiful and charming lady from Iran, an author like me, and we discussed about producing a mutual cookbook which we planed to sell both in Teheran and Jerusalem. Unfortunately, due of the political situation between our two countries yet we didn't execute our ambition. So she is cooking at the moment in Teheran and I am cooking in Jerusalem, but if we were cooking together instead of fighting it was wonderful. Those who are already being exposed to my philosophy know how I analyze everything, always out of the frame. So when I need to analyze the Iranian race for an Atomic capability I would like to raise a question to the young Iranian generation - wouldn't it be much smarter if your country should focus on one of its original and fabulous natural weapon?
Try to imagine what you will earn if you control on the stomach of millions of people around the globe if you export your cuisine in a much more aggressive way. Try to imagine what you will gain from all the other countries in the world including Israel and how it will effect on your economy and employment. I just want to tell the Iranian people, talking to them directly and over their leaders heads, that if I was invited to give a speech in the American congress I would have being offering my hands for peace. Grow up people; wars are not leading us for a better future, food leads. Words and food influence and I want to dedicate one of my poems from my book Stewed Poems to the Iranian people.
My poetry was born in the land of Cyrus,
In the cradle of civilization,
In the days of the shah,
Whose subjects called him- king of kings.
Between the grains of rice, prepared to perfection,
And the awesome meatballs
With chickpeas occasionally stuck to them,
Seasoned with my mother’s wonderful hands,
My father blessed the Sabbath and broke the challah.
I would hold the bowl of thick soup,
Grumble about all the herbs
But drink it all down,
Move on to the chicken breast garnished with baked almonds.
Now, in the face of psychological warfare by leaders,
Some of whom never uttered one word of Farsi,
I fear lest extinction come upon us in the end,
And then too will my poetry fade,
After all, in my own country too
They sometimes arrest poets...
Most and maybe all the Jewish Iranians who immigrated to Israel probably don't want to go back and settle again in Iran, but they will be happy to return as tourists. I wonder if Iran understands the economic advantage of giving up its Atomic race and pursuing economic prosperity using its cuisine. There's no doubt that if the people in Iran will understand that they can still be Muslims but moderate and join to the rest of the free world in order to eliminate the fanatics, their future, our future, our global future will be better. Much more better.
For more information:
The Journey from Iran to Israel - Stories, Photos and Recipes