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A few months back I read somewhere that Rick Steves had traveled to Iran, and apparently, he was not a fan of Persian food.  When I heard that piece of news I was rather disappointed and had a little rage. My eyes rolled back and my head started spinning.  I was almost tempted to grab every single one of the four books of his that we own from our “Travel & Adventure” shelf and toss them out in the street. Then I calmed myself down and drank some cold water.  While drinking my cold water, which by the way, is what Persians advise you to do when you are angry, I thought about the few places that he suggested in his books which turned out to be…um less than decent.

I convinced myself that he had not had good Persian food. I don’t know anyone who has had Persian food and didn’t like it. Seriously.

Days, weeks, and months went by and I totally forgot about this whole thing until the other night…

I was going through one of my favorite websites, Hulu, looking for something to watch. Much to my amazement I saw Rick Steves’ documentary about Iran. Whaaaaaat???? I was so excited to find it on Hulu and immediately wondered if he would showcase Persian food at all. In the mean time…I remembered the food comment…but kept an open mind.

I thought the documentary was well done. There is a definite undertone or theme to it, which is “Iranians who live in Iran do not hate the American people.” I thought the cinematography was well done and I loved his interaction with Iranians. I also loved the fact that there was some food involved. Let’s see, he eats some Persian ice cream, visits a bazaar where he speaks with a spice shop owner about advieh, and he briefly shows some Persian dishes while at a dinner party. One other aspect of the documentary that was of much fascination was seeing the way Persian women dress and their sense of fashion. I have always been impressed about how, while having to cover up, Persian women manage to look fabulous.

To watch the documentary click here.

After I was done watching this documentary, I did a little search and found an interview that he gave about his travel to Iran. Indeed, he had traveled to Iran in an attempt to clarify some misconceptions about my birthland.

To watch his interview with KCTS 9 click here.

Rick Steves kept a Travel Blog while visiting Iran . Back to the food issue, the following statement is directly from one of his blog entries:

I wasn’t wild about the food on my first trip here in 1978. It’s much better now…but still not very exciting. (Some country has to keep Norway company at the bottom of the cuisine rankings. With Norwegian heritage, I speak from experience.)

It was like a little stab in the heart…seriously, comparing Persian food with Norwegian food?? Oh no you didn’t Rick! The little devil in me is tempted to contact him and speak directly to him about his experience with Persian food…maybe, I should…

I would like to leave you with a much better quote from his documentary, as I found it sincere and touching:

Iran is an ancient and proud land with a rich culture. Traveling here it felt like paradise. Its contradiction difficult to understand. While our governments maybe at odd, the people we met were consistently curious, generous, and friendly. I found that, like in my own country, there is a tension in between modern and traditional, liberal and conservative, secular and religious. Maybe we are all just struggling to defend the moral fabric of our respective societies.

I have been wondering to what extent the USA/Iran tensions might be explained by carrying people on both sides motivated by love and fear.  And the flip side of fear is understanding.

I came to Iran a little nervous. I leave  impressed more by what we have in common than by our differences. I’ve overcome my fear by getting to know the Iranian people. Granted, there are no easy solutions to the problems confronting our two nations, but surly getting to know this culture is a step in the right direction.

So I am curious to know what you think of this documentary.  Share your thoughts please!

As Rick says: ” Mamnoon, Mamnoon very much!”


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