Little Iran

In Others
August 4, 2009

A busy day today, so just a quick pop-in running between appointments. I pass by this Persian grocery store all the time but I’ve never gone in. Perhaps the strange pictures of animals on the outside put me off… somewhat reminiscent of the Double Meat Palace: “how the cow and the chicken come together even though they’ve never met. It’s like Sleepless in Seattle if, if Meg and Tom were, like, minced.”

But it’s not at all meat-themed inside. In fact it reminds me of one of the things I love about London and all big cities – that you really can, to some extent at least, “visit the world” in just one city. Iranian food, Iranian music playing, people speaking Persian… No violently quashed electoral protests or rabid antisemitism, just a pleasantly Disney-ish Iranian cultural experience of fascinating foodstuffs:

Pergamot jam! Carrot jam!

Sour grapes!

These remind me of the triangular packs of Snowcrest orange juice I used to drink when I was a child. Or maybe they were imported from Israel… perhaps there’s something about the middle east that favours pyramid-shaped juice boxes.

I have no idea what this is. It’s a brown paste-like substance in a plastic sachet. Seems to be made of… cow? Maybe it’s beef stock? Googling “ghareghoroot” doesn’t help me because it just comes up as a forum user name. Any ideas?

And here’s a lovely Hogarthian picture which the lady who runs the store explained to me means something like “if shopkeepers give a lot of credit, this is what happens! So, don’t give too much credit and make sure if you’re a customer that you pay back your credit – you don’t want to ruin the shopkeepers!” Did people ever dress like this in Iran? Or is it an imagined Dickensian past? If the latter, at least I’m not the only one doing some cultural tourism.

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