By Sandra Thomas
Stroll through any of the dining/shopping districts that make up life in North Vancouver and you’ll find it hard to resist the hints of turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, saffron and lemon wafting from the entranceways of the community’s many Iranian restaurants and spice shops.
Cuisines of Diaspora
The variety and choices of Iranian dishes, groceries, baked goods and spices available are as vast and multicultural as the regions of Iran from where these shop owners, chefs and bakers hail.
Which is just one of the reasons Nazmi Kamal, an instructor of Capilano University’s School of Tourism and Outdoor Recreation, has launched a multi-faceted project called, Cuisines of Diaspora: Expressions of Iranian Foodways and Culinary Traditions.
“Diaspora” is a word used to describe a group of people who live outside of their homeland, either involuntarily or by migration.
Iranian Food Guide
The project includes the creation of North Shore’s first Iranian Food Guide which will be launched at MONOVA: Museum of North Vancouver on Sunday, May 22. Information for the guide was captured through interviews, photography, submitted photos and recipes, home cooking demonstrations and hours of research.
“These places have so much more to offer than simply a pastry. Not to downgrade good pastry, but they also have Iranian art hanging on the walls and are places to gather,” says Kamal. “They’re important.”
While the guide was initially meant to simply inform the public about the Iranian food available on the North Shore, it’s now grown to become a resource to help Iranians and non-Iranians, residents and tourists find culturally specific food spaces.
Another important finding of the project so far is just how common the act of sharing and eating food together is within the Iranian community, from busy markets to bakeries and fine-dining restaurants to cafes.
Kamal has partnered with MONOVA to offer some special events at the Museum of North Vancouver, including a mobile photography exhibit, guest speakers and, of course, tastings.
The first event is Discovery Sessions: Iranian Foodways Project at the Museum of North Vancouver (115 West Esplanade) on May 22, which will featured catering by Koja Cafe.
“I’m very happy that MONOVA is willing to collaborate in this way,” says Kamal.
For more information on the Iranian Foodways Project, contact Nazmi Kamal at email@example.com.
Upcoming at MONOVA
- Discovery Sessions: Iranian Foodways Project – Join Nazmi Kamal and members of the Iranian Foodways Project for an exploration on Iranian foods and culinary traditions as a diasporic community in North Vancouver. Food tasting and refreshments courtesy of Koja Cafe will be provided. Sunday, May 22, 2022 from 12:00pm to 3:00pm.
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Donations are accepted through the Friends of the North Vancouver Museum & Archives Society, Registered Charity No. 89031 1772 RR0001.
We respectfully acknowledge that MONOVA: Museum and Archives of North Vancouver is located on the traditional lands of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) First Nations, whose ancestors have lived here for countless generations. We are grateful for the opportunity to live, work and learn with them on unceded Coast Salish Territory.