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Introducing Miss Sajedeh Sotoudeh

Every now and again I feature a biography about people that have an impact on me and the industry I work in. Mostly they are cooks, chefs and restauranteurs, this time not so much. Sajedeh is a new immigrant to Canada studying nursing. Her homeland of decent is Iran, of which much could be said about many other issues such a woman's rights. Sajedeh and a few of her other peers, also studying at Memorial University in St Johns NL.

First a little about Iran.

Iran, also known as Persia and officially as the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country located in West Asia. It is bordered by Iraq and Turkey to the west, by Azerbaijan and Armenia to the northwest, by the Caspian Sea and Turkmenistan to the north, by Afghanistan and Pakistan to the east, and by the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf to the south. It covers an area of 1.64 million square kilometres (0.63 million square miles), making it the 17th-largest country. With an estimated population of 86.8 million, Iran is the 17th-most populous country in the world, and the second largest in the Middle East. Its largest city is the capital Tehran, followed by Mashhad, Isfahan, Karaj, Shiraz, and Tabriz.

Iran is home to one of the world's oldest civilizations, beginning with the formation of the Elamite kingdoms in the fourth millennium BC. It was first unified by the Medes in the seventh century BC and reached its territorial height in the sixth century BC, when Cyrus the Great founded the Achaemenid Empire, one of the largest empires in history. Alexander the Great conquered the realm in the fourth century BC and it was subsequently divided into several Hellenistic states. An Iranian rebellion established the Parthian Empire in the third century BC, which was succeeded in the third century AD by the Sassanid Empire, a major world power for the next four centuries. Arab Muslims conquered the empire in the seventh century AD, leading to its Islamization; Iran thereafter became a major center of Islamic culture and learning, with its art, literature, philosophy, and architecture spreading across the Muslim world and beyond during the Islamic Golden Age. Over the next two centuries, a series of native Iranian Muslim dynasties emerged before the Seljuk Turks and the Mongols conquered the region.

Under the Islamic Republic, physical violence against women starts in the home and extends into the society. While today Iran is a male-dominated country, before the 1979 Revolution, the state did not impose a uniform dress code on women; women were free to choose to veil or not to veil. Within weeks of the revolution, however, the Islamic hijab become mandatory. Men welcomed it; it gave them the means to control their women folk. But most women, especially women of the younger generation, rejected this attempt by the state to dictate how they dressed. When they came out to protest on the streets of Tehran, they were attacked by vigilantes, and the police did nothing to stop the attackers.

Since then, women have ignored the dress code in small and increasingly bolder ways, and they have paid for it. Under the law of retribution, adultery is punishable by stoning and violating the hijab is punishable by seventy lashes. Many young and middle-aged women received this punishment—a striking example of the state practicing corporal violence against women.

Now a little from Sajedeh;

Studies at Memorial University School of Medicine

From Esfahan, Iran

Sajedeh is a rather shy young lady, and also very busy with her fulltime studies in addition to working in a small hotel here in St John's. But I did manage to glean a little information about her life in Iran as well as how she finds her life here in Canada. I would like to say first off, how impressed I am with these young ladies, and men that make the leap of faith to come alone to a new country without reservation. I have met many such people in my travels, doctors, lawyers, accountants and so on, many are friends. I do tend to take a little more interest in those that have a more direct relationship to my industry of hospitality and how they may have some impact on improving it in a positive environmental sense.

Sajedeh left her family behind, an only child with a large extended family back home. At 21, I can only imagine the strength and resilience it would take to travel half way around the world to start a new life. Before leaving Iran for Canada, she enrolled in ESL in order to pass the qualifications for a study visa. In Sajedeh's own words, leaving Iran for Canada was like entering a dark tunnel...but she saw a light at the end. Fantastic! In Iran, it would be virtually impossible to get into nursing or medicine. Here in Canada, her dreams are being realized. Again Fantastic. Such a lovely young lady. And by the way, she writes like a

What a wonderful world it would be if more people thought this way, ideals into action!

Now on the lighter side a few pictures from a couple of food sharing experiences recently in St Johns NL. Follow along to the end, because I have also included a few recipes!


Persian Spice Mix
Download PDF • 217KB

Persian Eggplant Dip
Download PDF • 233KB

Persian Shrimp
Download PDF • 223KB

That's all folks! You can always find more International, Classical and Pastry/Baking recipes as a member of the site, consider signing up today. Have a great week, and remember to keep your stick on the ice, we are all in this together.

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