By dAyi Hamid Bern, Switzerland March 1996 The Iranian It is difficult to define “Iranian food.” With so many different regions being home to so many different cultures in our country, you can't really say what Iranian food is. Every city and even village has its own specialty. But one common element is meat. And lots of it. It's true that it all tastes great and I haven't seen a foreigner who tried an Iranian dish and didn't like it. But we still can't deny our unhealthy diet, which includes plenty of oil and starch (rice) too. But my main concern is meat. I have only known two Iranian vegetarians. One is a friend of my father in Iran. And the other, believe it or not, is me. My first vegetarian period lasted about three years, ending with a Celo-kabAbi in Antwerpen, Belgium. But since the start of this year, I've been trying to avoid meat again, and I must say it's a lot more difficult this time around. But being a vegetarian in the middle Europe is not only a culinarian habit, it's a life style. You can't just go out with your friends, stop at a kiosk and get a few hot dogs or drive through a McDonald's and grab some hamburgers. You can have a variety of Iranian meals without meat though. I can think of kaSke bAdenjAn, kuku, mirzA qAsemi, SAmi and borAni. And, of course, you can simply cook Iranian foods that usually contain meat, without meat. A lubiApolo without meat, with some carrots instead, tastes as good as one with meat. Heh — instead of making that outrageous face, you could at least try it. Use tofu for making kotlet (I'm serious) and you won't want to eat one with meat anymore. It is medically proven that eating meat does not help your concentration. It could even disturb it if the animal whose meat you eat was treated with hormones. That's probably why you are not fully listening to what I'm saying. Not eating meat is much healthier and saves animals' lives too. Next time you're eating that half a chicken for dinner, remember the bird whose life you've taken. Yeah, I know, it's difficult, but you have to start thinking about those poor animals and your own health. I just tell myself: Don't eat anything that has a face. Vegetarian dishes ———————- kaSke bAdenjAn kuku sabzi kuku sibzamini omlet xAgine mirzA qAsemi SAmi adaspolo bA xormA (and/or keSmeS) borAni nargesi eSkene Sefte dAnak supe berenj AS (jo, kaSk, reSte, mAst, …) dolme Sir berenj Sole zard halvA fereni Dishes you can make without meat ——————————————- xoreSte bAmiye qeyme bAdenjAn fesenjAn xoreSte xalAl bAdAm tah cin halim xorAke lubiA halim bAdenjAn adasi The meat in any Iranian dish can be replaced with tofu. nuSe jAn!