‘Man kabab kheily dust darim,’ I said to my tour group in Tehran, early on in my trip. Translation: I like kebabs very much.
‘You like kebabs?’ asked our guide, Reza.
‘I love them,’ I said, doing my best (unintentional) impression of Ruprecht in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.
‘You might not be saying that at the end,’ said Reza, and his cheeky grin seemed slightly offensive to me right then.
‘Hey buddy, are you making fun of my life’s work?’ I wanted to say, but didn’t.
When Reza reminded me of this exchange on our last day, we both laughed. I was no longer offended. I’d eaten enough kebabs in the previous two weeks to start a kebab shop with my breath.
If you want Iranian food, don’t go to a restaurant in Iran
There’s something outsiders should understand about Iran and eating out. Iranians don’t do it. The corollary of this is that the standard fare most of the restaurants serve up is fairly inferior to what Iranians themselves eat most days.
There are many reasons for this. In fact, I could write an interesting thesis on private versus public life in Iran. This division is real and visceral. My explanation may be hackneyed, but I’ll give it a go. A lot of the social laws enacted and enforced since the revolution don’t apply at home. Women don’t have to wear the hejab at home, alcohol may be consumed at home, you can dine with men you aren’t related to … >>>