Wednesday, 29 April 2009


Lessons before dining out - only in an Iranian restaurant though?

  • Wednesday, 29 April 2009
  • Fouad GM
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  • Next time you go to a restaurant claiming to offer Mediterranean cuisine, do inquire who the owner is! Just before coming back to Durham, my cravings for Egyptian, Lebanese and Greek food led me to a restaurant just off Leicester Square (London) that advertised offering Mediterranean food, but before I walked in, I realised there was a little more to it than just that. The music was neither pop nor traditional, and certainly wasn't Mediterranean. It was Iranian.

    The place was called Apogee Restaurant.

    To be honest, my passion for Iran, Iranian music and Iranian food led me in even more enthusiastically. And despite the fact that the restaurant advertises itself as one which specialises in Mediterranean cuisine, the dishes were almost all Iranian, except Dolme Pache (stuffed vine leaves) which are more Greeko-Levantine-Egyptian than Iranian (and yet the menu said they were ancient Persian!)

    None of that was as amusing as the menu's history lesson! It really does take an Iranian-owned "Mediterranean" restaurant to sit its customers down for a lesson in history and lecture them on the imperial glory of all that is Iranian. The following is what the menu reads before the actual menu starts!

    [Camera quality was a bit bad, so I've had to skip out a few words that I couldn't read from the photos I took]


    Ancient Persia

    Looking at the history of Persia is like looking through [...] pieces of broken glass. It is always out of focus, distorted and fractured behind the broken shards of the histories of Greece and Rome, half hidden beyond the eastern reaches of the Moslem and Ottoman empires. It is a distant land, remote and mysterious, a land of ancient culture and [...] elegant ritual. It is also a land of remarkably good food.

    When the Persians first conquered the ancient world, they extended their civilisation from the valley of the Indus in the east to Egypt and Greece in the west. They influenced religion and philosophy in Greece and Rome, but not the least influence was the introduction of their food.

    The cuisine of Persia is unique. The origins of many dishes are [...] in the long history of more than three thousand years and in the reciprocal influences involved in that history. Still, many of the dishes can be traced back a thousand years, some even further.

    The survival of the Persian way of cooking is largely due to the [...] appeal of the delicate blend of flavours and to its ability to successfully absorb and [...] the foods of other peoples. Persian food is [...] and attractive. But above all it has survived because it is delicious.

    The Persians believed in the satisfaction of the eye as well as of the [...] and in Apogee we carry this tradition on. Quality is our highest priority. We use as many organic products as possible and to the best of our knowledge do not use any genetically-modified produce.

    [...] and enjoy your meal...


    Lessons to be learned:

    (1) The glorious history of the great nation that is Persia is overshadowed by all that is Greek, Roman and Moslem/Ottoman
    (2) Persia is distinct from all that is Greek, Roman, Moslem, Ottoman or Indian
    (3) The Persians introduced religion and philosophy to the Greeks and the Romans
    (4) The Persians introduced food and cuisine to the Greeks and the Romans

    (1) Good food is now attributed to Greece, Italy, Egypt and Lebanon by mistake, it's originally Iranian
    (2) but, that has been overshadowed by the histories of Greece, Rome and Moslem Ottomans.
    (3) By the same token, religion and philosophy too, are Persian inventions wrongly attributed to Greece and Rome.
    (4) This restaurant offers you REAL, AUTHENTIC and TRUE Mediterranean food: food that is wrongly-attributed to the cuisines of the Greeks, Italians, Egyptians and Lebanese, but this time CORRECTLY named and attributed to the Persians


    Lessons learned? Now you can order... What can I get you?

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