Iran Impressions

The morning sun streaming through the stained glass windows throws a confetti of colors onto the walls of the Masjed-e Nasir al Mulk. The unusual rose petal shade of its tile work–different from the vivid blue favored elsewhere in Iran, gives this mosque a romantic aura. Then again, Shiraz, a town in southern Iran where Nasir al-Mulk is located, is imbued with romance, from its lush orange filled gardens to the tombs of its illustrious poets where people gather to recite favorite stanzas. All of this exists next to the modern Shiraz of skyscrapers, expressways and high-speed communication technologies, a combination that first strikes me as unexpected.

nasiralmulkshiraz

Before long, however, I get used to such contrasts.  “What does it remind you of?” ask friends and family, but the truth is that Iran is unlike any other place I’ve visited. It is a sophisticated, twenty-first century country with its own distinctive culture. It’s neither the saccharine vignette of roses and nightingales of the Victorian orientalists nor the grim and humorless vision of western newspapers. It’s much more complex, much more interesting and much more beguiling. From the first day I landed in Tehran and began to explore the sprawling, crowded capital city, I felt comfortable enough to venture wherever my curiosity took me. Thanks to the good will of ordinary Iranians, who are delighted to explain their country to a foreigner, my discoveries were constant.

I wanted to visit Iran for years, a desire that was strengthened by my work in fragrance. I often suspected that the modern French face of perfumery hides other traditions and origins, and the more I delved into the history of scents, the more I felt determined to make the journey. Fragrance has a long history and culture, but you’d never guess it by looking at the trite marketing campaigns that sell perfume solely as a luxury commodity. Read an average press release, and you’d be forgiven for thinking of scent as a necessary tool for seducing the opposite sex. I wanted to step aside from that, to read the antique manuscripts, to see the traditional distillation equipment and to visit places where fragrance was an integral part of culture.

esfahanbluetilesvank-church

It will take me a little bit of time to process my Iranian impressions and to sort through the thousands of photos I took. I expected Iran to be fascinating, but I was still amazed by the stunning architecture, Persepolis, blue tiled mosques, mirror inlaid palaces, gold decorated churches, and rose filled gardens. But, without any doubt, the best part of my journey was the people. The Iranians I met were friendly, warm and generous. Such daily encounters made my stay unforgettable. I will leave with many new friends and wonderful memories. Although my Iran trip is at its end, in a sense, it has opened a new chapter.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin. Top image: Nasir al-Mulk mosque in Shiraz, Iran. Second collage: Naqsh-e Jahan Square in Esfahan; blue tile work in Esfahan; Vank Armenian Orthodox Church in Esfahan.

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108 Comments

  • Danaki: So interesting. It reminds me when I was an adolescent and my dad went to Iran on a business trip. Back then we were living in Dubai and I had so many Iranian friends in school (there was a large Iranian community in Dubai – I don’t know why, or their history, whether pre revolution. No idea).

    Anyway, my dad said he did not have enough words to describe the beautiful places that he visited though he did lament the politics but wished that one day we’d all get to go too. November 9, 2015 at 7:14am Reply

    • Victoria: My friend just returned from Dubai where he discovered a great Iranian restaurant that has been in existence since the 60s. He was lamenting the fact that in NYC you can’t find anything nearly as good.

      Iranian architecture is stunning, and as much as I read about the various places I visited, I was still blown away by the beauty of Esfahan, Shiraz and some other towns. I had almost 3 weeks, but it was still not enough to see everything I wanted. November 9, 2015 at 11:39am Reply

      • Persolaise: 🙂 I know exactly which restaurant he means. I was there in April! Small world.

        Thanks for this write-up, V. A pleasure to read. November 10, 2015 at 6:39am Reply

        • Danaki: Where was that? There was a lovely Iranian bakery my mom and I were addicted to on Maraqabat Street. I wonder if it is still there. November 10, 2015 at 10:58am Reply

          • Persolaise: Hmm… I wonder if I know which bakery you mean. I think there were quite a few in that area.

            The really old Iranian restaurant is called Ostadi and it’s on Al Mankhool Road, not far from Meena Bazaar. November 11, 2015 at 11:09am Reply

            • Victoria: Yes, that’s the one! November 11, 2015 at 11:35am Reply

        • Victoria: Thank you!

          Are there any good Persian restaurants in London? In Brussels I haven’t yet found one. November 11, 2015 at 10:49am Reply

          • Persolaise: Victoria, I’m sure there must be; there’s such a large Iranian community there. But as I don’t live in London, I very rarely eat out there, so I can’t recommend one.

            I’ve often walked past one near Covent Garden, but it’s nearly always been empty, which is rarely a good sign 🙂 November 11, 2015 at 11:11am Reply

            • Victoria: Hey, you’re quite a chef, so I expect that you can make all of the dishes you want yourself. 🙂 November 11, 2015 at 11:36am Reply

              • Persolaise: I wish!!! 😀 November 11, 2015 at 11:45am Reply

                • Victoria: Well, I love following your various experiments on Twitter. 🙂 November 11, 2015 at 11:48am Reply

    • Persolaise: Danaki, I wonder if we might have been in Dubai at the same time.

      The revolution certainly had a role to play in the presence of so many Iranians in the UAE. Lots of Iranians left their country in the hope of better futures elsewhere. Many ended up in Canada, Sweden, the USA… November 10, 2015 at 6:41am Reply

      • Danaki: Yeah, I was too young back then to think politics, but something traveled back to Iran for holidays/visiting relatives, whilst other didn’t. So I guess it depends.

        I was in Dubai in the early 90s as a young teenager. I went to AlMawakeb. There weren’t as many malls back then. Mid 90s, Dad was offered a role back in Lebanon. November 10, 2015 at 10:57am Reply

        • Persolaise: Wow! We WERE there at the same time. I was there from 83 to 95, and I mostly went to Cambridge High. I knew a few people who went to Al Mawakeb. Small world!!!

          And no, there most certainly weren’t as many malls back then, but that didn’t matter, did it? 🙂 November 11, 2015 at 11:12am Reply

          • Danaki: Definitely overlap. I was there from 88 to 93. I told you before that many Oud fragrances take me back to Al-Ghurair too, which is the oldest mall?

            I’ll ask my mom about the bakery. Hopefully she’ll remember. November 12, 2015 at 5:31pm Reply

  • Karen (A): Thanks for posting this and fingers are crossed there will be more articles on your trip! It’s through travel and reading about travels that our world views become expanded. It’s so easy reading the news to have our ideas of places reduced almost to caricature – thank you again for reminding us (and yourself?) that countries are made up of people, and most people really are warm, welcoming and kind.

    Looking forward to reading what you learned about the fragrances and perfumes! (and several years ago, I had a Homer Simpson D’oh moment when I realized that, yes the Isphahan Rose was “discovered” by British plant explorers in Iran and brought back for cultivation in British gardens (along with many other roses and plants)…. November 9, 2015 at 7:52am Reply

    • Victoria: Our newspapers do a terrible job writing about the Middle East in general, reducing the places to the one-dimensional images. Since often they end up in the news because there is an armed conflict or some other violent issue, the focus becomes even more narrow. Iran is one of the most misunderstood places, and it’s worth visiting just to see how different it really is from what our media covers. Not so say there are no issues–Iranians, by the way, are much more candid about talking politics and religion than people in the US. As for the casual traveler, it’s a very easy country to travel in. As a female traveler, I also found Iran was very comfortable and by far one of the safest places I visited.

      As for perfumes, I smelled lots of scents on women and men, from traditional rose based attars to Giorgio Armani Gio, Chanel Chance, Lolita Lempicka, and on a couple of occasions, YSL Black Opium. In Tehran almost every block has a perfume store with blends sold in large carafes, from which your desired choice is decanted into small bottles. It was fun to sample. November 9, 2015 at 11:53am Reply

      • Joy: What you say above about the culture being misunderstood is exactly what my Persian friend says. Also Rick Steves, Seattle travel guru, has said the same thing. November 9, 2015 at 11:44pm Reply

        • Karen (A): Mark Twain said it best:

          “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

          My concern is it seems some are quite content not acquiring broad, wholesome or charitable views! November 10, 2015 at 7:16am Reply

          • Joy: So true! Thank you for your words. November 10, 2015 at 10:24am Reply

        • Victoria: Yes! That’s the main reason to travel there. November 11, 2015 at 10:43am Reply

    • Katherine: Karen, Let’s call Arielle’s to exchange numbers (assuming they agree). November 9, 2015 at 12:43pm Reply

      • Karen (A): Good idea Katherine! November 9, 2015 at 6:08pm Reply

        • Katherine: Done! November 12, 2015 at 7:21pm Reply

  • Joy: Beautiful article and photos, Victoria. One of my very best friends is Persian from Iran. She has kept an empty bottle of her mother’s perfume for years and can still smell the scent in the empty bottle. She has spoken if the beautiful scents and sights of Iran. I have enjoyed her wonderful Persian foods for many years.
    Your photos brought to me a sense of how beautiful it is. November 9, 2015 at 9:30am Reply

    • Victoria: How lucky! Homemade Persian food is really the best. The restaurants in Iran offer a fairly limited selection, since people still cook mostly at home, and when they go out, they prefer to eat the kind of food they wouldn’t make. This often means kebabs.

      I also ate delicious bread, and since every town has its own variety, the choice was endless. November 9, 2015 at 11:55am Reply

      • Scented Salon: The best way is to get an Iranian mother in law and visit her every week, sampling all the goodies. Few cuisines are as delicious as the Iranian cuisine. November 9, 2015 at 8:10pm Reply

        • Victoria: 🙂 I can’t agree more, although in my case, it’s a mother or a grandmother of an Iranian friend. Or I make it at home. Little by little I’m expanding my repertoire. Yazd, besides having a beautiful mosque which Claire mentioned in her comment, also turned out to have some of the best cuisine. Their baklava was a revelation, because unlike the Turkish or Greek variety, it wasn’t as sweet. It was basically two thin sheets of buttery pastry holding a thick layer of almond filling. Have you tried anything like it? November 9, 2015 at 8:19pm Reply

          • Scented Salon: Yes, it is famous in Iranian circles. Considering there are so many delicious desserts, that is saying something. My personal favorite is another kind of baklava, I forget which town it is from, but it has an orange and a green layer and it is all made from extremely finely ground almonds. A friend brought it from Lorestan several times. It is to die for. After something like that, I cannot even touch syrups-soaked, walnut-filled Turkish baklava anymore. If Europeans are known for their chocolate, Iranians are definitely the masters of nut confections. November 10, 2015 at 2:16pm Reply

            • Victoria: I know that version too, and yes, it’s delicious and just sweet enough for me. It actually reminds me of my grandmother’s sheet cookies with nuts. November 11, 2015 at 11:04am Reply

        • Joy: You are so right! It has been such a privelege to be able to dine at my Persian friend’s home. The food she prepares is sublime. She cooks for herself every day. November 9, 2015 at 11:47pm Reply

  • Alicia: What a delightful adventure! I have always wanted to visit Persia (Iran). Enjoy every minute of it, and every morsel, since Iranian food is also wonderful. November 9, 2015 at 9:37am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Alicia! As I mentioned to Joy, the best food in Iran is homemade. The restaurants don’t even offer a glimpse of how wonderful it can be. But I ate some of the best kebabs, and since persimmons and pomegranates were in season, I was very happy. November 9, 2015 at 11:57am Reply

  • Elisa: Such stunning photos. I have been interested in Iran’s history of late, as I just read a novel by an Iranian American, Sons & Other Flammable Objects by Porochista Khakpour. Recommended. November 9, 2015 at 11:33am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, I will check it out. I’ve read a lot about Iran over the years, but I keep discovering new novels and non-fiction works.
      When it comes to ancient Persia, I’m still very partial to Tom Holland’s Persian Fire. It’s one of the best history books, hands down. November 9, 2015 at 12:00pm Reply

      • Leslie: Victoria, would you consider putting your list of favorite books together? I would be interested. I know little about Iran and would like to learn more. November 9, 2015 at 12:06pm Reply

        • Victoria: Yes, I will gladly do it. That would be a fun project. November 9, 2015 at 7:23pm Reply

          • Elisa: Seconded, I’d love to see this post! November 10, 2015 at 10:45am Reply

            • Victoria: Great! I love writing about these topics, so I will do it soon. November 11, 2015 at 10:58am Reply

  • Jessica: Beautiful photos! November 9, 2015 at 11:40am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much! November 9, 2015 at 12:00pm Reply

  • rickyrebarco: Beautiful! November 9, 2015 at 11:58am Reply

    • Victoria: Glad that you like them. I still have to sort through all of the photos I took. I foresee that being a big job, since I have so many. 🙂 November 9, 2015 at 12:01pm Reply

  • Leslie: Iran is a place I can’t even picture in my mind so I hope you write more and post more photos. I loved your Facebook updates. November 9, 2015 at 12:04pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m glad to hear it. Before I visited I also didn’t know what to expect besides the blue tiled mosques and Shiraz gardens, so it was all a big discovery. November 9, 2015 at 7:22pm Reply

  • Kate: Fascinating. This is why I read your blog, Victoria – it is perfume seen as an aspect of culture, together with your fascination with culture in general. Your articles always make me feel like I am there, sampling the colours, scents and flavours! Look forward to reading more Iran posts in due course. November 9, 2015 at 12:24pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Kate. I feel that the most interesting aspects of perfume are the ones where it’s linked to cultural practices, art, science, fashion. My Indian mother-in-law uses perfume for worship, to scent gods as part of the ritual, and it’s so fascinating (Indian gods love perfume, flowers and sweets). November 9, 2015 at 7:29pm Reply

  • Phyllis Iervello: Victoria, I really enjoyed your post and the photos were absolutely beautiful. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to see a little bit of it. I would love to go there but doubt if I ever could afford to. November 9, 2015 at 12:25pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m very excited to share, and I will write more about scents. Also, Iran produces some amazing essences, some of which are used in perfumery today. Iranian rose oil smells like honey, so delicious. Meanwhile, if you have a Middle Eastern store near you, look there for the Iranian brands of rosewater. They’re some of the best. November 9, 2015 at 7:31pm Reply

  • Austenfan: I wasn’t surprised that you were planning this visit as you had mentioned learning Farsi. An uncle and aunt of mine visited Iran 2-3 years ago and they still can’t stop talking about it. They have travelled extensively in the Middle- and Far East but this trip made a huge impression on them. Not least because of the very friendly reception they got everywhere.

    The newspaper I used to read did a series of books on different countries that they had experienced correspondents in. There was one about Iran. It’s years since I read it, but I remember clearly that at the time I thought that it must be a country of contrast with a very rich intellectual tradition.

    All in all, I’m not surprised that you enjoyed yourself there. I hope it has given you many beautiful memories, that will last you a lifetime. November 9, 2015 at 12:28pm Reply

    • Victoria: The funny thing is that I wasn’t learning Farsi with an idea of going on a trip to Iran; it was purely for the practical reasons of wanting to read the Mogul era perfume manuscripts that aren’t available in translation. But once I put in enough of time into learning Farsi, my desire to visit the place grew even stronger, and well, I did some research and decided to go. It was a bit spontaneous, but the timing was perfect.

      By the way, I met many Dutch in Iran. It’s far from an undiscovered destination.

      I was also impressed by the level of education–and great English of many young people. In Tehran I stayed in the area of Tehran University, and the whole blocks were full of bookstores and cafes. And little perfume stands where you could stop by just to get perfumed. November 9, 2015 at 7:46pm Reply

      • Austenfan: I’m not surprised by that. There was a documentary made by a Dutch journalist who is married to an Iranian woman earlier this year on Dutch TV. It was all about the contrasts within Iran. Didn’t watch much of it, but it was interesting.
        The funny thing is that I remember when I heard you mention learning Farsi, that I was convinced that sooner or later you would visit Iran. I’m glad that my intuition has proved right, and even gladder that your trip was such a success ! November 10, 2015 at 4:05am Reply

        • Victoria: Yes, that’s what many of my friends thought too when they heard I was learning the language.

          I heard of that documentary, but I haven’t seen it yet. November 11, 2015 at 10:48am Reply

          • Austenfan: There is plenty of info on the documentary but it’s all in Dutch. Title was: Our man in Teheran, made by Roel van Broekhoven. It even won a prize in the Netherlands. November 11, 2015 at 4:21pm Reply

            • Victoria: Thank you, that was the same documentary I saw. November 12, 2015 at 9:54am Reply

  • Katherine: Heart-stopping photographs (a good thing). Thanks. November 9, 2015 at 12:40pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m very happy to share. 🙂 November 9, 2015 at 7:47pm Reply

  • Solanace: That colorful light shower has to be good for the aura, or something! Can’t wait for other articles about the things there that made your heart beat faster. 🙂 Widespread stereotypes are no good for anyone, and the only way to go beyond the CNN conflict oriented view is to travel, talk to the people, walk in their cities, smell them, eat the food. Thank you for sharing your Iran impressions and beautiful pictures. Did you manage to bring back any poetry books and beautiful traditional perfumes/attars? November 9, 2015 at 1:40pm Reply

    • Victoria: I did! The first thing I did after getting to Tehran was to go to the bookstores to buy a volume of Hafez and a few dictionaries (something I had difficulty buying back in Brussels; our Farsi speaking community isn’t that large). I also bought rose attar in Kashan, although I had a small spilling mishap with it, and now my purse and suitcase are permanently imbued with the scent of roses. November 9, 2015 at 7:52pm Reply

  • Scented Salon: At this moment, I am incredibly jealous of you, once again. I have been longing to go to Iran for decades and still have not managed to. Can you feel my jealousy from across the ocean? haha November 9, 2015 at 1:48pm Reply

    • Victoria: I very much hope that you will be able to visit someday. It’s more than worth it. Such a fascinating place. November 9, 2015 at 7:53pm Reply

  • ChristineB: Thank you for your account of your Iran trip. Like everyone else, I would love to see more of your photos. It is so good to hear your personal account of Iran. I feel, to my shame, that I am probably influenced by the very narrow reporting of British newspapers about Iran, which tends to focus on political matters that have some direct impact on British foreign policy. However, I am sure I have read somewhere that women have been making an impact in the iranian film industry for some years. November 9, 2015 at 1:54pm Reply

    • Victoria: Our reporting, in the US, but also in Europe, is so one-sided that it’s hard not to be influenced by it. The best part, though, was just visiting and seeing the place for myself, speaking with people, experiencing the life day to day. Cinema is big in Iran, especially since as far as entertainment goes, it’s the most important one. A film many talked about was Separation, but I still haven’t seen it. November 9, 2015 at 8:08pm Reply

  • Neva: I can’t take my eyes off the first picture!!!! It’s mesmerizing and I’d love to see more pictures from your trip. It sounds fascinating and I’m happy for you. November 9, 2015 at 3:41pm Reply

    • Victoria: When I stepped inside the mosque, I gasped. It was unearthly beautiful. I could sit in that multicolored light for the whole day. November 9, 2015 at 8:09pm Reply

  • Claire: Thank you for your beautiful post. I look forward to them, always, and the beautiful descriptions and experiences of the scented world descibed by your readers and fans. I had the fortune of visiting Iran when I was just 20, on the cusp of the revolution. I had many Iranian friends in college, and I spent several months there with a friends family that summer. The hospitality (sometimes overwhelming) and the beauty of the country were astounding and transformative. Sadly, I returned to the U.S. to experience ignorance, bigotry, and hatred towards all that was Iranian, and too many Americans were incapable of distinguishing between Arabs, Turks, Iranians,etc. My beautiful experiences of the people and culture posed a very stark contrast to that which was being portrayed in the press, so it was awakening in that sense as well. The ancient gardens (horticulture), cuisine, medicine and many sophisticated scientific practices have their roots in ancient Persia. I will never forget being given the gift of an orange, the skin peeled back, and the sections arranged inside like an origami flower. It was like magic. Indeed, much like India, the best food is cooked in the home (usually by women, and very labor intensive). The use of rose and orange flower waters, herbs, spices, and fruit in Persian Cuisine are are so fragrant and unique. I will never forget the blue dome of a Mosque in the desert of Yazd, shimmering in the heat, merging with the sky. On another note, all of the Iranian women I knew in the U.S. at that time wore heavy hitters like Giorgio Beverly Hills: it was on the cusp of the 80′. One of them gave me a bottle of Magie Noire Perfume (so beautiful, I wish I still had it, but it was mostly too intense for me at 20). I can’t wait to hear more about your experiences there, and what your fragrances discoveries were. November 9, 2015 at 4:11pm Reply

    • Victoria: How fascinating, Claire! I hope that when I share more of my impressions, you can also write more about your memories of Iran. Yazd was one of my favorite places to visit. It’s such a beautiful town, and the main mosque with its bright blue tiles was beyond belief. I haven’t seen tile work as intricate before.

      The interesting part about Iran is how richly varied its culture is. There are so many influences and layers. Even among people. You see so many interesting faces (and very attractive too). November 9, 2015 at 8:17pm Reply

  • Aisha: I would love to visit that area of the world again.

    Beautiful article and photos! I do hope you write more travel piece. 🙂 November 9, 2015 at 5:00pm Reply

    • Victoria: Have you ever visited Lahore? My friend went there for work, and he really enjoyed his stay. November 9, 2015 at 8:10pm Reply

      • Aisha: I was born there. 🙂 November 14, 2015 at 12:14pm Reply

  • Megan: If you ever have the opportunity to try the Iranian New Year’s treat, Yakh Dar Behesht (Ice in Paradise), I highly recommend it! It’s something like a light pudding, flavored with rosewater and pistachios. It tastes as wonderful as it smells. November 9, 2015 at 7:56pm Reply

    • Victoria: I did try it! It was like a perfume for the body. If anyone is curious, here is a recipe I found:
      http://www.mypersiankitchen.com/yakh-dar-behesht-ice-in-paradise/ November 9, 2015 at 8:25pm Reply

      • Scented Salon: Ooh, this sounds so good. I make a saffron ice cream at home. It is so easy: cream, saffron, sugar, pistachios and salep (a Turkish starch to thicken the concoction). Mix it up and freeze. Don’t overdo the starch. November 10, 2015 at 2:21pm Reply

        • Victoria: Sounds delicious! I ate this kind of ice cream in Iran sandwiched between two crisp wafers. November 11, 2015 at 11:05am Reply

  • AndreaR: Tantalizing! I’m not a brave traveler, but would love to see this part of the world on a magic carpet. Looking forward to hearing more. Thank you so much for sharing your amazing journey. November 9, 2015 at 11:47pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m very happy to share. I don’t think of myself as a brave traveler either, but I’m very curious. 🙂 November 11, 2015 at 10:45am Reply

  • Andy: I can’t wait to learn more about Iran’s beautiful people, places, and culture through more of your pictures, posts, and (my mouth is watering already…) recipes that I’m sure we will have the treat of seeing in the near future. These photos here are so gorgeous, and illustrative of a country whose true identity is all but invisible through the catastrophizing media lens. November 10, 2015 at 6:50am Reply

    • Victoria: I’m just trying to figure out where to start! There is so much I want to talk about, and I was there long enough to discover a lot. November 11, 2015 at 10:52am Reply

  • Mariann: Has anyone read the recent Time magazine on Iran? It looked interesting but haven’t had a chance to leaf thorough it yet. November 10, 2015 at 6:59am Reply

    • Victoria: The Economist had an issue devoted to Iran a few months ago, and it was very interesting and thought-provoking. I haven’t seen the Time magazine yet. November 11, 2015 at 10:53am Reply

  • Aurora: Such splendid photos, it must be you in the first one, looking pensive.

    It’s wonderful to hear you had a great time, thank you so much for sharing your discoveries with us, I am looking forward to more posts on the subject, I dream of going one day. I have Iranian friends who cook and have enjoyed especially lentils and eggplant dishes (I’m a vegetarian).

    I’m so glad to note you like Iranian rosewater, I have been using it for years, I get it at a Turkish store here in the UK, the smell is incredible and when I bought an organic Bulgarian rosewater online for a change and out of curiosity, while good, it just didn’t have that nectar like smell. November 10, 2015 at 7:03am Reply

    • Scented Salon: Try mixing the food-grade rosewater with your face toner. I mix rosewater with Guerlain’s Super Aqua toner and it works and smells great. November 10, 2015 at 2:28pm Reply

      • Victoria: Or you can use it straight on your face, which is what I do now. But if you haven’t done it before, it’s best to get used to it by using rosewater diluted. When I work, I keep a small atomizer of food grade rosewater on my desk for an occasional misting. So refreshing. November 11, 2015 at 11:06am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you. Yes, that’s me. 🙂

      Two of my favorite dishes discovered in Iran were vegetarian–a spread made with eggplant and garlic and a warm stew/spread of eggplant and kashk, sun-dried yogurt.

      Since rosewater is such a big part of the Iranian culture, its production is well-developed, and the quality is excellent. I like some Lebanese brands too, but they also can be a hit or miss, while all exported Iranian ones are of the same high quality. November 11, 2015 at 10:56am Reply

  • Annahita Yazdi: This is amazing, as a perfume lover with Iranian heritage, I literally can’t wait for the rest of your blog posts on your trip! Love your blog. x November 10, 2015 at 7:21am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Annahita! I will start putting it together little by little. November 11, 2015 at 10:56am Reply

  • Sofia: What a fantastic trip you had, you’re so lucky did it.I was in Iran a few years ago for a business trip. Even though my stay was only a few days long and I was not able to “sightsee” as much as I could (and I would have loved to visit Shiraz), it was the business I’ve done that has intensely marked me most in many different ways. And I agree, the best part were the people. I would love to hear more from your point of view xx November 10, 2015 at 10:21am Reply

    • Victoria: I hope that you can visit and see Shiraz. It was a town I was most curious to see, and while my impression of it was very different from what I envisioned before coming, I ended up liking it very much. November 11, 2015 at 10:58am Reply

  • Annikky: Beautiful photos, beautiful writing, beautiful thoughts. I’m very late, but wanted to have that on the record 🙂 I hope I’ll visit one day, there are so many aspects of this culture I enjoy and want to know more about. November 10, 2015 at 12:04pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Annikky! Yes, I very much hope that you visit it someday. November 11, 2015 at 11:03am Reply

  • Qwendy: Fascinating, Victoria, thanks so much for posting this! I had two different assistants from Iran in Los Angeles, one came as a refugee from the Revolution, the other was a young woman who had been born in the US who loved visiting there with her parents. It was hard for them to explain to me why they loved going back there so much, and I am so glad to get more of the story from you!

    There are several fantastic cookbooks by Najmieh K Batmanglij …. The one I have here is simply called A Taste of Persia …. i have had periods of cooking almost exclusively from it ….. An amazing cuisine! November 11, 2015 at 5:31am Reply

    • Victoria: A place where you were born will always have a strong pull, but now having visited Iran and met so many wonderful people there (the last two days in Iran I was in tears most of the time as we were saying goodbye), I know why others are drawn to it too.

      I love A Taste of Persia! Her updated Food of Life is a treasure, by the way. November 11, 2015 at 11:25am Reply

  • Qwendy: I just searched for a recipe for Jujeh Kabob (not in my book) and came up with this fantastic Iranian cooking blog!
    http://turmericsaffron.blogspot.fr/2010/09/joojeh-kabab-persian-grilled-saffron.html November 11, 2015 at 5:34am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you! Yes, it’s a fantastic blog, with many wonderful recipes. November 11, 2015 at 11:10am Reply

  • Karen 5.0: Thank you for this lovely post – I can’t wait to read more of your impressions and see more of your photos!

    As a former diplomat, my portfolio was Iran and I was beginning to learn Farsi. Unfortunately, the closest I ever got to the country physically was flying over it on a trip to the Middle East. Otherwise, I’ve had to content myself with the many excellent Iranian film makers’ movies to glimpse Iran…and now, your post!

    One day, I hope to visit, but it is not so easy for U.S. citizens. November 11, 2015 at 11:33am Reply

    • Victoria: I hope you will visit, Karen. I visited with my US passport with no problems at all, neither once I entered, nor while there, nor when I left. You do have to book your trip through an agency, either a foreign one or in Iran (this is a better and a less expensive option), but other than that it’s fairly straightforward. November 11, 2015 at 11:39am Reply

      • Karen 5.0: Oh, that is good news. Times must have changed and for that, I’m glad! November 14, 2015 at 11:47am Reply

  • Ali Mellati: Victoria, I’m an Iranian perfume lover living in Iran and today I got aware of your trip through our Facebook page: “Perfume community of Iran”. There are lots of members I think they would like to meet you and had dialogue about fragrances. Wish we could be aware sooner about that . November 13, 2015 at 4:54am Reply

    • Victoria: Ali, thank you very much. I also wish I had known about your group before I went, because I would have liked to meet all of you. I hope that I can visit again. There is so much I enjoyed about this trip, and I would love to explore more of Iran. November 13, 2015 at 11:55pm Reply

      • Ali Mellati: Now you have my email, if you have the second chance to visit here, we’d be happy to meet you in Iran. November 14, 2015 at 2:17pm Reply

        • Victoria: Thank you very much! November 19, 2015 at 2:10pm Reply

  • rainboweyes: I’ve found this article about young Iranian fashion design today in the German “Zeit” magazine. Beautiful coats!
    http://www.zeit.de/zeit-magazin/mode-design/2015-11/mode-fashion-iran-maentel-rouhani-frauenrechte-persepolis-teheran December 4, 2015 at 1:01pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much. This is such an interesting article. I found Iranian women to be very stylish, and I really liked the fashions I saw in stores.

      I also enjoyed this article from the same site:
      http://www.zeit.de/zeit-magazin/essen-trinken/2015-11/sonntagsessen-bottom-of-the-pot December 4, 2015 at 3:53pm Reply

      • rainboweyes: Oh yes, very interesting too, I also had a glance at her blog, it’s full of great recipes!
        Have you also seen the link to the next article “Speck und Krümel”? The blog mentioned there baketotheroots.com has some wonderful recipies too, some of them quite unusual, like vanilla cupcakes with bacon 🙂
        I might try this one next weekend http://baketotheroots.de/brownie-bites-with-cardamom-and-tangerine/ December 5, 2015 at 9:55am Reply

        • Victoria: I missed it, but I’m going to look right now. I did hop over to the blog link you posted, and I’ve added it to my bookmarks. I like his recipes and the explanations behind them. By the way, this book he recommended sounds very interesting–Flavour Pairing: Das Spiel der Aromen by Heiko Antoniewicz. December 5, 2015 at 11:05am Reply

  • Raquel: What a beautiful post. I had a very dear friend from Iran while I was in Cambridge UK in 1985. I wish one day I could visit this amazing place. Can’t wait to read more posts about Persia. Thank you for sharing this beauty. December 6, 2015 at 9:18pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Raquel. I miss the friends I made in Iran very much. Such kind and warm people. December 7, 2015 at 2:28pm Reply

  • ALIREZA: Hi buddies,
    I am a persian.Tnx for your regarding about iran.
    I am sure it can be a really a great surprise when you visit iran.a definitely different world.we already mixed modernization with our custems.
    You will enjoy the journey.I am an engineer and working abroad.if you need more information or some helps contact me alirezagholizadeh73@Yahoo.com .
    It’s pleasure to answer your questions.
    finally sorry about my english. March 2, 2016 at 5:25am Reply

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