I am very well aware that one should be careful not to generalize but there are some things I dare say most people born in Iran avoid eating. Second-generation Iranians living in Sweden or other countries have probably learned to eat some “trendy” dishes.
I never forget when I came to Sweden and Fjällbacka in the summer of 1966. My brother-in-law, who was a priest, was going to wed a couple, and I was asked to go with them. It was incredibly hot and beautiful summer day and the wedding itself took place in the church which is on a hillside overlooking a large part of Fjällbacka. The party took place at the stadshotellet. It was not as big as Iranian weddings – maybe 50-60 people. I was really hungry and looked forward to eating! The service started and the appetizer was served. There were some strange things on the plate, at first glance, everything looked incredibly unappetizing for a teenager that I was at that time. It smelled like a pickle, but the color or rather a lack of color that I experienced left a lot to be desired! It was just very grey!
Well-mannered as I am, I tried to pull myself together, especially since my sister Payande gave me “the look” once now and then, just as if she could read my thoughts. Well, it was time to start eating. I watched how others did with the appetizer. They took a bit of several components on the fork and stopped it in the mouth, I did the same. But when I started chewing, I became vomitus! Took up the napkin and as discreetly as possible, I tried to get rid of the whole thing in the napkin, which I then tried to conceal. It was truly a terrible experience! My sister saw all of this and whispered that I probably had to take several chews. You have no idea how terrified I was – just the thought of taking another chew on that gray thing made me even more nauseous. My sister and I were the exotic features at the wedding, which meant we had “the eyes on us”, petrified with horror, I tried to find a way to cope with the situation. What kind of appetizer was it you might wonder. It was pickled herring served with potatoes, sour cream and chives. A culinary experience for most Swedes – but to me, it was pure abhorrence. meticulously, I cut the herring in as small pieces as possible, took a piece of that on the fork, took a deep breath, stopped breathing as I stopped it in my mouth and swallowed it without chewing. Immediately afterward I took a piece of potatoes, chives, and sour cream to clear the mouth, then I could breathe out. It took some time to eat the appetizer
I was completely exhausted from the experience. Now I looked forward to eating the main course. All I remember was that it was a piece of meat that was medium-rare. The edge was quite okay – and I could eat it – the middle part, however, was impossible for me to eat. Now I needed to have a new strategy! I cut the middle part into smaller pieces – stuffed it into the mouth and then used the napkin again! I then put the napkin in my purse to get rid of it later. In the mingle afterward people were talking about how good the food was, the only thing I could say when I was asked about the food was: interesting indeed!
Still today I cannot eat herring but I do pickle it for my husband who loves herring. I do not eat cured salmon or sushi. Nowadays, I dare to actually talk about what I do not eat, it’s more acceptable today than it was in the 60’s. Posted an article about a man who had eaten too much sushi and had a lot of worms throughout the body (You can read the article here) – My nephew who is married to a Japanese was quick to give me more information about this.
“I’ve learned the hard way about sushi: You have to freeze the raw fish for a certain amount of time and temperature to kill worms, hence only sushi quality fish that has been guaranteed to be frozen for a certain amount of time and temperature should be eaten raw. Some people take shortcuts and do not want to pay more for sushi-grade fish, they will either buy fish from a market where the fish is not frozen or get it from a dubious supplier who sells the fish as sushi-grade fish and takes higher prices when it’s not! It’s hard to be sure that the fish has been frozen for a long time and enough cold to kill the worms. Fish living near the coast, or partially living in rivers – like salmon – are particularly vulnerable to worms. Make sure there is always sushi grade fish if you want to prepare sushi or ask the restaurant owner about the fish before ordering it.
That also goes for the new, trendy food preparation Souse-Vide, where you immerse the food in a plastic bag and put into a precisely temperature-controlled bath of water, people will try to just barely cook the food – since it’s cooked so evenly, it normally tastes great. DO NOT TRY THIS WITH FISH, at least non-sushi grade. Biological things in the fish – smaller parasites or bacteria as well as potential tapeworms – need to be killed either with prolonged freezing or cooking thoroughly. If you have to buy sushi grade fish, why try and even cook it? It’s a waste. Hence, don’t even mess with fish and this type of food preparation – cook it the old fashion way. Enjoy your sushi from reputable sources (restaurants) that get certified by government health organizations.”
I will not eat sushi or other types of raw fish such as cured salmon or pickled herring which I firmly claim is not good for the body.
I myself visited a super trendy fish restaurant with good reviews in the mid 80’s, ordered salmon that was not adequately cooked and was very sick for almost a week at the hotel. I do not want to have that experience again. My sons say I’m resentful – that is probably correct – but if you get sick after eating food it turns into a horrendous memory that you do not want to experience again!