The History of Persian Cooking
Persian literature is as richly beautiful as her hand woven rugs, skills, brocades, delicately worked jewelry, miniatures, and magnificent architecture. It is equally enriched by poetic references to Persia’s culinary art. which the Iranians, by means of their artistic skill, elevated to a high degree. Producing many masterpieces and d elicacies.
Firdausi, the great Persian epic writer, tells an enchanting tale about a knight who was captured and imprisoned in a deep well by the enemy king of a neighboring country; whereupon Rostam, the famous hero, accompanied by thousand followers, went secretly to the enemy’s land to rescue him.
Arriving there, he ordered a chicken to be cooked and stuffed with rare ingredients. Then, putting his ring in the center of the stuffing, he sent it as a gift to the hopeless prisoner. Thus word was conveyed that Rostam had come to the rescue.
There are many other such stories in which food or drink plays an important role. About 700 years ago a poet, Bos – hac of Shiraz, wrote a book of satirical lyrics, calling his characters by the names of different foods and beverages.
By means of these symbolic characters he narrated critical observations on the political situation of his time. Using the same food-named characters, he went on to pen many of his own philosophical ideas.
Artistically combined foods have played a major role in the life of the Persian people. History has preserved numerous records of social and political events where in food played a part. They tell how crimes were committed by means of delicious foods, temptingly displayed. Many Kings, amirs, and other dignitaries were poisoned by a halva prepared by a queen or a slavemaid. But more often halva played a peaceful role in settling differences between two or more people. Women have had great influence on the cookery of Iran. Thousands of recipes have been devised by Persian women. In the palaces of Persian kings there have always been women who, thought plain feature, have been held in highest esteem, frequently displacing in favor the most ravishing court beauties because of their incredible skill in the preparation of food. Even the average housewife was aware that carefully prepared food was appreciated, and she took pride in her work. Consequently, home-cooked food in Iran far outclasses in delicacy and flavor any dishes prepared in the inns or eating places. Throughout the ages influence of Persian culinary art spread to all the Middle Eastern countries – to Turkey, Iraq, Armenia, and Syria – where today these same dishes and culinary history of Persia.
As in other countries, the people of Iran have special dishes for special occasions. Through their culinary traditions have been faithfully abserved at weddings, Birthdays, and funerals, at religious and historical feasts as well as at many formal and gatherings.