Food Culture and Tradition

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Domestic Life in Iran

IRANIAN DOMESTIC LIFE

The traditional walled-in houses and picturesque gardens of Iranian homes reveal a deep respect of the old ways. Traditionally, while the men pursued their trades, crafts, or other work, the women spent long hours lovingly preparing fresh seasonings and the intricate ingredients for favorite dishes. Besides meal preparation, their work included the care of children, animals, and often crops.

More recently, despite their traditional chador (a long drab cloth draped to cover the body and most of the head and face), women are increasingly educated and working in professions. The week’s routine of work is broken by the Muslim day of rest: Friday. On this day, picnics are customary and the men of the family take turns accompanying a chattering group of girls, aunts, mothers, and grandmothers for a country outing. As in most other Middle Eastern countries, men prefer to enjoy the company of other male friends in local ghavakhane (a name meaning “coffeehouse” although tea is the favored beverage).

In a land where ancient arts are prized, it is no surprise that the ancient arts of the kitchen are also prized and taught with great pride by mothers to their daughters. In the larger cities, modern conveniences and appliances are increasingly available, but to many Iranians the arts and skills of the kitchen are still best performed in the old way – squatting on rug-covered floors and working on trays, blending seasonings using mortar and pestle, cooking foods with patient care over a small stove.

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