The food is out of this world. It’s not spicy yet it’s varied and imaginative. Perhaps the only bad thing you can say about Iranian food is that it’s time-consuming to prepare so the women are stuck in the kitchen all day.
The big deal is probably the rice. They have a way of cooking it with dill that takes hours and it ends up with a crusty bottom like a kind of rice bread.
Meals are served up on carpets in the home and there’s often about 5 side dishes.
Basically there’s often a delicate mutton or lamb and then piles of flat nan bread and of course bean stews with pistachios and then aubergine to the side and yogurt drinks and fresh dates that melt on the tongue and- I’m on first plane back…
If you buy a meal of nan bread and dates and pistachios then you’re virtually eating for free.
Dates in particular here blow your mind. When they’re fresh they’re like cream. It’s not uncommon to have a date tree in your garden in some areas and it’s an easy climb to gather some more for breakfast. Dates are seen as very important for strength and the trees themselves are so sturdy that they’re sometimes used as a fire wall in the orchards – in the event of a fire the date palms won’t ignite and so the damage is limited.
When Iranians drop rice from their plate they always gather it at the end of the meal; it refers to a belief that the grains of rice represent money and so shouldn’t be spilt.
Whilst Iranians will eat their last meal around midnight before going to sleep they rarely include rice in the supper – it’s believed to be fattening when eaten late in the night.
An Iranian delicacy is head of sheep soup. They love it but it’s as gooey as you might imagine it to be.