LectureBy Sami Zubaida, Emeritus Professor of Politics and Sociology, Birkbeck College, London11 December 20086:45-7:45 pmAsia House, 63 Cavendish Street, London W1G 7LP
Introduction : Iranian food and cookery are framed by the history and geography of the country, as well as its position in the culture and politics of the region. Food is part of the cultural synthesis formed over the centuries by the interaction of peoples in trade, war, empires and religions. It is also shaped by the natural environment, so diverse in Iranian lands: from mountains to deserts, from the arid to rain-fed green forests and pastures, from the warm Gulf in the south to the temperate Caspian in the north. This environment provides a rich variety of vegetation, fruit, nuts, fish, meat and dairy, ingredients in the evolution of distinctive food traditions. Historical continuities are combined with developing elements, such as the import of New World foods, like the tomato and the potato which revolutionised cooking in many regions including Iran. Considered in the regional context, Iran has many distinctive dishes and ingredients, some of which they have contributed to their neighbours, especially in the era of globalisation and rapid diffusion, such as Fesenjoon and Ghormeh. Others, such as Kebab, Dolma and Kofta, are shared with neighbouring lands, but with distinctive Iranian character. The Iranian kitchen boasts the most varied and refined rice cookery, with distinctive methods and variation of ingredients. These and many related themes will be pursued in the lecture.
About the Speaker : Sami Zubaida is Emeritus Professor of Politics and Sociology at Birkbeck College, London and Research Associate of the London Middle East Institute, SOAS. He has held visiting positions at Cairo, Istanbul, Berkeley CA, Paris and New York University. Publications include: A Taste of Thyme: Culinary Cultures of the Middle East (co-edited with Richard Tapper), London 2000, Law and Power in the Islamic World, London 2003, and Islam, the People and the State, London 1993, to be re-issued with new Introduction in 2008. Many articles and research papers on Food and Culture.