Saturday, June 22, 2013

Kashan: Mansions and Mosques

FAQ #9: You're a vegetarian. Will there be anything for you to eat?

A: According to Lonely Planet and many of the sites I visited, not really. According to my own experience, yes, but (there is always a but) it helps if you like eggplants. Most restaurants, even in the more remote villages, have large multi-item salad bars, which are intended as starters, but usually have a sufficient variety to allow you to make a substantial meal out of just the salads. If you want a hot meal, then a penchant for that omnipresent purple vegetable does come in handy. There must be a hundred different stews devised around the eggplant and I believe I tried most of them.

One myth that was quickly vanished for me was that I was going to have no trouble finding falafel, hummus, tabouli and other foods that I routinely associate with the Middle East. Apparently, these things never really made their way onto the Persian table. The one exception was in the bazaar in Tehran, where one lone vendor sold falafel sandwiches (served not in a pita but on French bread) commonly referred to by Iranians as a "dirty sandwich" for its inherent messiness (as in "Are you really going to eat a dirty sandwich from a street vendor?" A: Yes)