Persian Snacking

There are always differences between cultures, especially with food. But a certain food habit appears so vastly variant between the west and the Middle East, and that is the little act of snacking.

I have grown up in England for most of my life, and piling the supermarket aisles, there have always been sugary snacks, salty foods and produce filled with millions of additives, preservatives and colouring. Ready salted crisps, chocolate bars and sweets are popular choices here and forever stock cupboards and lunchbox containers.

In Iran however, you would see incredibly different snacking goods. There are bags full of nuts and seeds. From the classic pistachio nut to the pumpkin seed to the walnut. You will see adults and children alike, gnashing down on shells of healthy snacks and being experts at getting that little seed of goodness out of its casing. You won’t have an arguably bland fruit bowl filled with simple apples and bananas either, in Iran you will find succulent peaches, juicy figs and water quenching cucumbers that we eat from a fork with salt sprinkled on.

Walnuts are popular for snacking in Iran.

In the west, we are becoming more self conscious with our food habits, thankfully. There is the new ‘hip’ range of superfood that everyone seems to be talking about, and this type of nut and seed snacking is well featured. We are snacking on healthier choices in the west and have hopped on to the idea of nuts and seeds like the Middle East. With vitamin E and omega 3 properties and much much more, they are evidently the wiser snacking choice by far.

In England however, I feel as though having nuts and seeds appears to be a ‘fancier’ and a more ‘luxurious’ food option, this could be so due to their high prices, but in Iran this type of snacking is just the norm. You will see glass bowls full of these little bits of goodness on every table. A sofreh will have a plastic bag full to the brim with nuts waiting to be eaten and a container of seeds waiting to be split from their shells. There will always be a plastic bag in the middle of a group of people, being the designated place for collecting any remains.

For me, there isn’t anything that can beat those healthy snacks of Iran and I relish in the fact that they are just part of their everyday food habits. In the west we are catching on and are making a conscious effort to now be healthier, which is fantastic news, but I do wonder if a standard snack in England would ever be a small cucumber on a fork.

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