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Food culture

Iranian food culture

Food culture in Iran is an arresting and interesting part of their cultural relations. In Iran, food is highly respected and the tablecloth, where food is served, is revered. Generally, in Iranian food culture, food is believed to be the blessing of God. Therefore, disrespect for the food is the equivalent of disrespect for the Creator. In addition, the tablecloth is venerated in Iranian food culture as a place where family members gather three times a day and interact with each other. In many families, eating alone is a disregard for family members and a sign of family miscommunication. 

Let’s know rude behaviors

Iranians share many eating customs. Slurping tea or any other drink is considered rude. Iranians learn from childhood that they should not eat with their mouths open, or talk while eating. Noisy eating is also rude if other people around the table hear them. In more religious families, people are used to saying “Bismillah” before eating; after finishing the food, they thank the mother of the family (in most cases, women cook at home in Iran) and also thank God. In the case, Iranians are guest for lunch or dinner, after finishing their meal, they thank two persons in a special way.

First, the lady who was preparing for the party and then, the man of the house. Complimenting and admiring about the cuisine and commenting on the taste of food are the main customs in Iran. Especially when we are guests in someone’s home. Iranians, even if they do not like the food they eat, acclaim it. Saying such terms as “the food was too oily, spicy, or salty” is not rude only if you are a very close friend of the cook or host.

What about welcoming custom?

On the other hand, the host also stress that their guests forgive them for not having cooked a good meal. In fact, she surely is a very competent cook, but she stresses this because it’s a part of welcoming custom. So, if you as a guest don’t eat enough, the host would think that their food is not delicious. Your host would think that you do not like it. Even many Iranians would ask you what wrong is with their food that you cannot eat it.

They ask if it’s too salty, undercooked or if you do not like that particular dish. In this recent case, you have two options. Admit that there is a problem with food, or eat enough portion of food to satisfy them. And if the food has a problem, in many cases, the host prepares other foods for you. Or they might ask you about what you like to order it from a local restaurant.

It may be that, before a party is held, the host asks the guests about their favorite dish. They had better to know what the guests do not eat at all, and what they love to eat.

Food culture in Iran
Food culture in Iran

Food equipment in Iran

In general, tablecloth is used instead of the dining table in Iranian food culture. The tablecloth is often of Iranian fabrics such as Kalamkari textile, spread out at the center of the carpet. Although it is called tablecloth, there is no table involved. It is a piece of cloth spread out on the ground; food is served while people sit around it. The plates of food are laid on the tablecloth. And the members of the family sit around it to eat their main meals.

For the past few years, the use of the plastic or the disposable tablecloth is more common. In fact, Kalamkari and Termeh textile exist only in a few restaurants. In other words, the situation is slightly different and the use of this type of textiles is luxury. It has no place in the everyday life of most of the Iranian families who are from the middle class. Today, due to changes in the lifestyle, the use of the dining table is common and the tablecloth is present only in crowded family gatherings.

Another thing about food equipment in Iran is the use of spoon and fork. Iranian food culture is such that the need for using knives rarely happens. Some foods are first wrapped in bread that is called Loghmeh and are eaten by hand. Some foods, including Abgoosht and Aush are served with spoon without fork. Most of the foods are served in a plate. Different types of Aush, Kaleh Pacheh, and Abgoosht are also served in relatively large bowls. Foods like salad, steak, potato chip, and Macaroni which are not originally from Iran are served with forks.

Food culture in Iran
Food culture in Iran

Food culture in Iran and Serving food

Unlike the Western culture that brings an appetizer, the main food, and dessert to the table at certain intervals, the food culture in Iran places everything on table or tablecloth at the same time. The main food, the addition, the appetizer, the dessert, and the beverages are simultaneously put at the table or tablecloth. However, people eat and drink them at the appropriate time.

Other fact about food culture in Iran is the Iranian cuisine. Iranian cuisine is often time-consuming and, unlike fast foods, is not suitable for short periods of time. Perhaps the reason for putting everything on the table at once lies in such a point. Another reason is that, since the past, it has been rude to leave the table if food was not finished. This point must have remained in the deep unconscious of the Iranian years ago and has not changed. Even now with the increase in the interaction between Iran and Europe, it is unchanged. Iranians prefer to put things down at the table not to leave the table for each part of the meal.

Banned food

In food culture in Iran, the use of some foods is prohibited and generally has no place in traditional food customs. Pork, dog, cat, donkey, rabbit, and all their by products are taboos. The reason goes back to religious values. Also, all alcoholic beverages are prohibited in Iran, and selling, buying, making, and using them is a serious crime. Eating insects and raw seafood also has no place in the food culture in Iran and does not conform to the tastes of most Iranians.

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