Lover of Literature
Twenty-one years ago, Touri Bolourchi; her husband, Akbar; and her two daughters fled Iran when Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini closed the schools. As a nurse, educated in England and married to a doctor, she was determined to see her girls properly educated.
After settling in California, Mrs. Bolourchi created a home filled with exotic decorative touches, spicy Middle Eastern food, and books — in French, English, Farsi, Arabic and Italian — that she read obsessively, to herself and to her daughters, said Roya Touran, her elder daughter.
She loved cooking, especially for guests. Dishes requiring a dozen steps and two dozen ingredients did not faze her. "She would look through food and wine magazines," Mrs. Touran said, "read through a recipe and just make it for guests. She was very courageous. And it always worked out."
Mrs. Bolourchi, 69, was a practicing but easygoing Muslim, Mrs. Touran said. "She said her prayers, but she wouldn't fuss about drinking. If Dad or me or my sister wanted a drink, she'd say, "It's O.K., go ahead,' and be laughing. When there was port after dinner, she'd take a tiny sip."
Flying terrified her, but she forced herself into a plane last September to see Mrs. Touran and her grandsons in Boston.
On Sept. 11, she boarded United Airlines Flight 175 for the trip home. "She waved and said, `I'll see you at Christmastime," Mrs. Touran said. "Then she walked away."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on June 30, 2002.