From “Persian Gulf” to “Persian Cuisine”


by shaghayegh15

As an avid watcher of the Food Network channel, I follow pretty much everything related to the celebrity chefs and their programs on this channel. Needless to say the amazing amount of information I have absorbed from these programs has resulted in not only having a greater appreciation of the culinary arts , but also of ethnic cooking.

However, one of my major complaints about the Food Network has always been the lack and virtual non-existence of any program dedicated to Persian cuisine and exploring the richness and variety of our Persian cooking culture.

Imagine my joy when I read in Peyk Magazine last year (No. 108 March & April 2007) that the Food Network channel, had filmed a special program for none other than celebrity Chef Emeril Lagasse on January 9,2007 at the home of Minou Sadeghi in San Diego. According to Peyk, Charissa Cabot, the daughter of Minou Sadeghi is the Culinary Producer for the Emeril Show and had been pitching the idea of presenting a segment on Persian cuisine and had finally succeeded .

Adding to the good news was that the program which was originally going to be called "A Middle-Eastern Feast", was now renamed to "A Persian Feast".

It was only when the program was actually aired on April 02, 2008 (//,...), more than an entire year later , that the bad news came to light.

The footage shot from Minou Sadeghi’s beautiful Persian home showed numerous authentic Persian dishes, extremely well prepared and presented, being served at her garden party. From Peyk Magazine : "January 9th was a beautiful example of a sunny San Diego climate. A garden party was set-up at Minou’s home with a few Persian friends to enjoy a variety of appetizers including Mast-o-Moosir, Borani Esfenaj and Mast-o-Laboo. The entrees included Khoresh Bademjan, Persian Jeweled Rice, Saffron Basmati Rice, Kebob Koobideh and Grilled Tomatoes. Delicious and colorful fruits, jams, sabzi, torshi and desserts filled the tables in the garden."

However, the recipes presented by Emeril in the studio for this “Persian Feast” program were as follows:

- Hummus Ma Lahma

- Falafel with Tahini Sauce

- Middle-Eastern Style Cucumber, Onion, and Tomato Salad

- Persian-Style Jeweled Rice with Oven Roasted Chicken

- "Bride's Finger" Date Rolls with Orange Flower Water-Honey Syrup

Personally, I had never tasted Hummus and Falafel before I came to North America, and even though they may be popular recipes in southern regions of Iran, they are certainly not representative of authentic Persian Cuisine. The Middle-Eastern Style salad prepared on the show, just slightly resembled our own “Salad Shirazi” as it also contained Romaine Lettuce and Parsley, and the "Bride's Finger" dessert , although very tasty, comes nowhere close to Persian desserts.

The only real Persian dish featured in this program was the Persian-Style Jeweled Rice which again, is rarely seen on the typical Persian menu , neither at Persian homes or restaurants.

Ironically, Emeril’s own cooking blog posted this item on March 2008 which references the magnificent Persian cookbook, New Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies, by Najmieh Batnanglij:


While this is indeed a big step taken by the Food Network to introduce Persian Cuisine on cable TV, and the efforts of Charissa Cabot and Minou Sadeghi in making this finally happen are truly admirable , one can not help but feel we still have a long way to go before our unique Persian identity is fully established as a separate entity from Arabian and Middle-Eastern cuisine. When we are being threatened to be “obliterated”, we better defend all aspects of our culture and identity as much as we can, from “Persian Gulf” to “Persian Cuisine”.

Given the fact that the shows culinary producer and her mother were both Iranian, and the show took an entire year to be edited and aired, one wishes this rare opportunity would have been better utilized and more attention to detail had been given in representing an important aspect of Persian culture on an internationally acclaimed TV show.

I would strongly suggest writing to the Food Network and voicing our opinion on what we as Persians enjoy preparing and serving at the table. Showing there is a demand and interest for Persian Cuisine would be the first step required towards having a regular Persian Cooking show on the Food Network Channel.

You can visit the “Persian Feast” episode’s page here and write a review about each recipe featured in the program:




half of the dishes mentioned

by flafel lover (not verified) on

half of the dishes mentioned in that show are arab dishes, ie hummus and flafel , lahma etc hehehe. Too much for separating ur Persian identity from the rest.