Hi I’m Louisa. I believe in spreading love through food. I know I’ve connected when after feeding someone, that person looks at me completely differently and says something like, “Oh my God, that was amazing!” When it happens, it’s the best feeling in the world.
After telling me how much someone loves my food, the next thing I typically hear is, “What did I just eat?” That’s because I’m usually cooking Persian food, and while over thousands of years Iranians have developed a sophisticated cuisine, the influence of which appears in many familiar dishes (rice pilaf, paella, sherbet, and marmalade come to mind), it’s still brand new to most Westerners.
Why Persian Food?
My interest in Persian food starts with my family. My dad was raised in Iran in a traditional Muslim family and came to America as a young man. During my childhood in Philadelphia, my identity was defined by my American mom’s Ashkenazi Jewish heritage. My soul food was more matzo ball soup, and bagels with lox and cream cheese, than herb and dried lime stew with crispy tahdig or kabobs with frothy doogh. But I grew up hearing my dad speak Farsi on the phone, and occasionally got to meet my Iranian relatives.
A highlight was the time when my beautiful Aunt Malih came to visit from Tehran. She cooked all day, her manicured hands turning out a feast with everything from fesenjan or bademjan stew to herb and lentil studded rice to yogurt dip, an herb and bread platter, and sweet sholezard rice pudding decorated with cinnamon. She spoke almost no English, but even when I think of it all these years later, I can feel the love that she transmitted through her food on a level that is deeper than language.
When I finished culinary school and started cooking professionally, I recognized the treasure I had inherited in ingredients like saffron, rose petals, and pomegranates. With a newfound passion for Persian flavors, I wrote the cookbook The New Persian Kitchen. But I’m still a student of this cuisine. From rose elixir to crisp golden rice to chewy saffron ice cream studded with pistachios, Persian food is so rich in history and ancient mystique, and so just so downright quirky, that I’ll be exploring it for a lifetime.
Come With Me
My goal with Feast By Louisa is to share the magic of this food and culture with you, so even if you’re not eating in my home, you can still feel the love.
I invite you to join me on my journey through the beautiful landscape of Persian food. Whether you’ve never tasted a pomegranate – a situation I’ve had the privilege of remedying many times in Nashville, where I live - or you’re an Iranian American ready to reclaim the food of your heritage, you’ll find lots to enjoy.
We will pass through a world of fairy tale foods including rose water and rhubarb, pomegranates and pistachios, dates and dried limes, and caviar and cardamom. We will celebrate age-old rituals around Yalda, the longest night of the year, and Nowruz, the spring equinox when nature comes back to life after the long sleep of winter. And we will share recipes and cooking tools to help you create the beautiful foods of Iran.
I’m proud to have been cooking Persian food long enough to be an authority. I’m the author of The New Persian Kitchen
, winner of Food52’s Piglet award
. I’ve spoken about my passion for Persian food at Harvard, Google, and The Museum of Food and Drink. My recipes have been featured in The New York Times
, The Wall Street Journal
, The New Yorker
, Bon Appétit
, and on National Public Radio
, among others. I give cooking classes and do Persian guest chef dinners at restaurants around the country, including Maydan in Washington, DC, Zahav in Philadelphia, and Kismet in LA. I’m currently a resident of Nashville, where I serve as the Culinary Liaison for the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, both cooking for and organizing events that feature chefs from Nashville’s richly diverse immigrant community.