Why am I doing this….

 In Book, Food For Thought, Uncategorized

So, what’s this all about then…

This is my foodie and travel blog about Iran. Yep, you heard.

Pleasure, adventure and good food are probably not the first things you think about when someone mentions the world’s most notorious Islamic Republic. But why not, I ask you? Why not?

As someone who was born in London but has been travelling back to Iran all my life, I’ve always been acutely aware of the massive misperceptions that exist about Iran. Time and again British friends would be express surprise that an independent Western woman such as myself would travel to Iran so frequently and with such enthusiasm. And I’d get used to patiently explaining that Iran wasn’t really what they thought it was like. That it is a developed, highly educated, middle-income country, where women got the vote before they did in Switzerland. And no, Iranian women don’t have to wear the burkha, and they can drive, and that actually, Iranian women are some of the most independent in the region. And that Iranians do not speak Arabic but their own national language Farsi. And that that is because Iran is not an Arab country but has its own history, religion and culture which predates Islam by several thousand years. And that Iran has great ski-resorts. That you can find great sushi restaurants in the capital city, Tehran. That it is not all deserts and the North, where my family are from looks a lot like Wales. But like, with less daffodils.

But of course, most people don’t think of Iran in that way. Last year I asked my friends on Facebook to share with me the first three things that popped into their heads when they though of Iran. Here are a few of their responses…

Ahmadinejad, Ayatollahs, Nuclear Bomb”

“Magnificent Shah palaces in deserts…vengeful crowds…Khomeini’s unsmiling face”

“Pointy shoes/slippers….ornate walls….women in black”

“Ayatollah, Ahmadinejad, Rumi”

“Persia, Shiraz wine, Zoroastrianism”

“Magical, simple, fable like films, beautiful kids with big brown eyes (in said films), pomegranates”

“Arthouse cinema; dates; patriarchy”

“Bombs, great-grandpa, Iraq”

“The t-shirt Homer Simpson wore with a picture of Ayatolla Kohmeini under the words “Ayatolla Assahollla!”

“Music, ladies’ sculpted eyebrows and repression”

“Sumac, rose petals and bombs”

“Skiing. Ahmadinejad. Nuclear”

Now, you don’t need to be a CIA operative to work out that to most ordinary people in the West, Iran is only known for it’s recent political history and it’s potential as a global military threat. No one’s fault given that these are the only depictions of Iran that our media focuses on. Don’t get me wrong, Iran is obviously a politically significant country in an unstable region whose government’s policies have a direct impact on many global issues. But that story is not the sum of the country and certainly not the story of all of its people.

Yes, Iranian people. When was the last time you heard any voices from inside Iran talking about ordinary things like their lives and their dreams and their fears and their loves and their heartaches and their culture and their history and their music and their food? Their food, which is undoubtedly, hands down, is some of the best food in the whole wide world. Such unique flavours, so different from any other cuisine and so accessible to us here. We’d be fools not to explore it!

So this project is about sharing my enthusiasm for the culture, the food and the sights have got me hooked with Iran and showing a different side of a country that only makes the headlines for the wrong reasons.

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