Earlier this year, in April of 2022, I had the great privilege of having an in-depth conversation with Leyla Shams of Chai and Conversation about growing up Iranian. This discussion was indeed one of the most engaging, authentic, and transparent conversations I have ever had and one that I am most excited to share with you.
Leyla Shams runs the widely popular Chai and Conversation site, where she offers a slew of language learning materials to help you along your Persian language learning journey, no matter what level you are at. She has developed a program that makes learning the Persian language fun, accessible, and, most importantly, achievable.
Additionally, Leyla offers an insight into Iranian culture and traditions by having an interview series called, Growing up Irooni.
Here is what Leyla writes:
Omid Roustaei is known by his online name the Caspian Chef, under which he publishes a popular blog and has an active Instagram presence- I’ve been using his recipes to cook amazing food for a couple of years now, and have always been fascinated by his stories and his voice on his recipes. Also, his methods of cooking are very relatable to me- we talk about why during the interview.
We cover a lot over the course of our conversation. In fact, it’s one of the longest interviews I’ve ever done- we go over how to find your passion growing up, feeling like an ‘other’ in a foreign land, and whether or not it’s important to know and understand the Persian language. I learned so much from Omid and felt like he took me down some unexpected paths.
He’s not your whole grew up in the diaspora and held onto his roots type of person. He really strayed from the Iranian culture and found his way back through food after decades of living in the United States.