For me, breakfast is of utmost importance – a way to turn on my organism, start a new day in a strong, energetic manner and to put it simply, not to feel hungry until at least lunchtime. I have traveled to many countries, experiencing a variety of local breakfasts, some of them close to my own country, Poland, a strong morning meal, that can include fried eggs with sausage or bacon, variety of sandwiches, often with cold meat, smoked fish or varieties of yellow Gouda- like cheese. This goes for Northern and Eastern Europe, while an average Italian or French man will consume just a couple of brioches or croissants with a cup of cappuccino. So, after I arrived in Tehran, I was very curious about the local Persian breakfast morning food, just hoping that my hostel would not serve a kind of “international breakfast”.
Indeed, there and also later, travelling across Iran, I discovered the local custom; I suppose it is the most popular, “mainstream” Persian breakfast – probably in some remote or nomadic communities it can be different. But while hopping several hostels in most visited cities and towns of Iran, I became familiar with this one, repeated with some small varieties.
First of all – “Chai”, meaning tea in Persian. The national drink for centuries, served during all the day, often from beautiful Russian-style old samovars. Since gas and electricity are quite cheap in Iran, you will notice everywhere in hostels and on streets, big traditional or modern samovars, always on fire and full of boiling water, ready to fill your cup of tea or (more rarely) coffee. Coffee is not yet very popular here.
In Iran, there are many kinds of local bread, including European style ones. However, in most places I stayed, they usually served a soft bread, somehow similar to pita – as we call it in Europe, or my preferred crunchy bread – similar a bit to Italian ciabatta. Then, on Persian morning table I always found some staple elements – white, a bit salty cheese, (sometimes it was a local version of feta); to go with it, sliced tomatoes and fresh cucumbers. I was a bit astonished by this affection of Iranians towards crude cucumbers – I saw people eating them in parks as we do with apples!
And always there will be boiled eggs or (less often) fried eggs, butter, sometimes green olives – this is the salty part, that a tourist will find in most of Iran’s hostels. I heard that in some upper levels hotels or in some families a breakfast can include also soup, among them the famous (or infamous for some smell sensitive people) Kale-Pache, a hot essence created by slow fire boiling of heads and legs of goats and muttons – considered a traditional “Persian Red Bull” and winter panacea by many. You can find kale-pache in some restaurants, of course.
There was obviously also a sweet part of my Persian breakfasts – usually a bowl of dates, a plate with halva, fruit jams and honey. There will be some cake or common biscuits, too. Another curiosity – Iranians love carrot jam, I found out seeing it in every hostel I stayed. In the cities, carrot juice is very popular, altogether with fresh pomegranate juice, you will see lots of sellers and kiosks offering it.
And to keep it healthy, Iranians finish the morning meal by some fruits – mainly apples and oranges.
So, while from time to time I miss a brown bread sandwich with smoked salmon or eggs and bacon dish, I consider a typical Persian breakfast very tasty and extremely healthy – unless you go wild on halva abuse, of course :)))