In Iran, Dizi Is More Than a Dish

No matter how widely you eat or curious your palate, too few Americans have tasted much Iranian food. In Roads & Kingdoms, the anonymous writer named Pedestrian writes about one of Iran’s most popular dishes, a stew named dizi. Pedestrian’s article ran in July, 2015:

In Iran, dizi is more than a dish. It is a ritual, one with its own history and rites. There are photos of early twentieth century Iranian teahouses with men sitting around dizi pots, stuffing themselves. A sense of camaraderie and openness is associated with dizi, unparalleled in Iranian cuisine. It is the food of laborers and commoners, and it is valued for being a dish to share and enjoy in the company of others. This imagery is reflected in the artwork that adorns dizi houses. Larger than life warriors like Rostam from the Book of Kings, or dervishes—those who submit to a life of truth-seeking and worship—are portrayed in colorful scenes.

Today, dizi is a common restaurant food, most famously served at Iranshahr Dizi House, a restaurant in downtown Tehran. But in the past, it was most often served at teahouses and corner stores, where it fed tired men finishing a hard day’s work.

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