- Emma Minnis
Gourmet Sabzi: The World of Iranian Food Blogging
It seems these days you cannot log onto Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest without your stomach growling as you scroll and scroll through pictures and videos of edible decadence. While man’s love of food predates history, anyone who frequents the internet can see that it has transcended physiological necessity and has become a beloved art and often, an outright obsession. However, social media has attached significance to food culture beyond recipe sharing and restaurant reviews. Food blogging transformed food culture into a worldwide network of foodies beyond a loving mother’s kitchen table. Over the last decade, food blogging has become a widespread phenomenon, providing amateur and professional cooks with a space to exhibit their creations while connecting with others who share their passion. Iranians participate in a unique part of the food blog world by reflecting on their heart-felt memories of their homeland of Iran, sharing their sentimental reasons for contributing to the Iranian diaspora community, and promoting exquisite and often healthy Persian dishes.
Let’s not throw out the visual of a loving mother’s kitchen table just yet. Each blog is sprinkled with memories and anecdotes about their families and childhoods in Iran. The writer from Turmeric & Saffron reveals that she uses her blog space as a tribute to her late mother by sharing the recipes she had prepared with love and care. The food blog format gives her a comfortable platforms to share her memories of her mother and pass on beloved family recipes to a more than welcoming audience. On the left is a picture of the writer and her mother that she included in her blog.
Similarly, Fig & Quince uses beautiful language to paint a picture of her childhood in Iran and share the recipes inspired by her mother’s tattered, yet very much loved traditional Iranian cookbook seen below. She goes beyond food to reflect on the stories and traditions of her grandparents.
In many ways, writing about Iranian food and culture seems to help bloggers reconcile their pasts with their new lives abroad. Azita from Fig & Quince discusses her travels to Iran after being overcome with homesickness in New York. By posting pictures from her travels and describing the culture as she interacts with it, she allows her audience to experience Iran virtually and share in the admiration of her homeland. For the writer of Turmeric & Saffron, the blog space allows her to create a connection with people from her mother’s home town of Hamadan, which influences many of her recipes, especially those that are warming and wholesome in the winter months like fereni. Her Hamadanian audience fully embraces this aspect of her blog, and even one commenter posted: “You made me proud to be from Hamadan!” Alternatively, the blogger from My Persian Kitchen uses humor to highlight the cultural differences between Iran and her home in the United States, emphasizing the benefits of learning about cultures around the world. She often tells funny stories about introducing her husband to Persian culture and teaching him that ghormeh sabzi must be eaten with rice.
Overall, these food blogs are a great platform for sharing the tips and tricks of preparing Persian food. The Persian Fusion provided a guide on how to properly (and sparingly) use saffron. A common thread in the blogs is advice about substitutions for traditional, yet hard to find ingredients. In the process of suggesting substitutions to make cooking Persian food abroad more approachable, these cooks create fusion recipes by combining traditional and more accessible ingredients. Furthermore, traditional food is adjusted to accommodate particular diets and health concerns. For example, My Persian Kitchen offers an entire section to gluten free recipes, while others provide vegetarian and vegan alternatives to their recipes. The world of Persian food blogging has given the foodie community a unique glimpse into the lives and traditions of Iranians while cultivating a proud Iranian community around the world.