Raised for the first ten years of his life in Iran (what was the ancient Persian empire), Payam Fardanesh, describes his childhood as a “marvelous culinary experience. Our fruits and vegetables weren’t bought in a store. My Grandmother would take us to the bazaar on Saturdays to buy them. There were always piles of fresh fruit in our kitchen and on display for guests in our living room.”
This love of fruit led Payam to write a fruit blog he coined Fruitacular, as his first venture into the gourmet food business world. “I wrote about how to select fruit the Mediterranean way, which relies heavily on smell. My grandmother used to say about grapes that you could smell the sweet musty flavor of a perfectly ripe grape. She said a watermelon should have life, that you should be able to feel the buoyancy when you held it.”
Payam’s grandmother could be described as the true founder of Silk Road Soda. His fondest memories are of her kitchen and the wonderful aromas of her cooking. For his sodas, he started with her recipes, used organic ingredients, added the effervescence of light carbonation, and made a drink that’s a modern take on an ancient tradition.
Another important aspect of the sensitivity to food and how it affects our bodies is the concept of hot and cold foods. “In Persia foods are classified as hot or cold. Hot foods -- such as spinach, carrots, chicken, and beef -- speed metabolism. Cold foods – such as lamb, sugar, oats, oranges, and strawberries – slow metabolism.”
“If you have a stomachache, you’re asked what you just ate. If it was a lot of ‘hot’ food, the balancing effect of a ‘cold’ food is recommended, and vice versa. A good host will watch what his or her guests are eating and feed them the opposite for balance. It may sound complicated, but in the Persian culture, it’s simply a way of life. And these ideas influenced the recipes for my sodas.”
The name, “Silk Road Soda,” pays homage to the link that this trade route forged between China and the Mediterranean, with a goal of bringing these goods to the West. Culture and cuisine were transmitted along the Silk Road, and Persia was right in the middle of this cultural exchange.
Payam describes this as “tribal knowledge” that he acquired naturally. And he has applied it in formulating the beverages he makes. “My passion for my culture comes through in these sodas. The Persian-Iranian cuisine has matured over a millennia, so it’s important to guard those original principals.”
“It’s very gratifying to use an heirloom of my culture and to see the reaction when people taste it. Older Iranians remember flavors like they are from home. And young Americans, who have no cultural ties to it, just love it, because it is so refreshing.”
“Through Silk Road Soda, there are thousands of people who know more about my cuisine than they did before. My grandmother lived in Tehran her whole life, and passed away there at age 96. She would be so thrilled to know that Silk Road Soda is creating so much enthusiasm about her Persian cuisine.”