Seattle and Isfahan share a table with Chefs Without Borders

Najmieh Batmanglij is signing a book for a reader at the Seattle Center

 

Seattle-Isfahan Sister City Association builds delicious bridges of understanding between the U.S. and Iran in a month-long celebration of Persian food in Seattle.

In times like these, it is all too easy to find hostility and conflict among neighbors. Just take one look at the memes circulating Facebook or the rants populating the Twitterverse.  Current events and their commentary would indicate it is natural for one to sit behind a keyboard and dig her heels in the sand.

Are we destined to live divided?

The good news is common ground remains. And that is, of course, food. Food is the world’s great unifier.

“Now more than ever, is the time to celebrate what brings us together, not what divides us.”

Saffroned Yogurt and Chicken Braised with Caramelized Barberries accompanied by crispy Persian rice

No matter your country of origin, whether you are liberal, conservative or concertina player, we all eat to survive. We all taste in sweet, savory, salty and bitter notes. Undoubtedly, we all have a favorite dish that was made for us by a beloved mother or caregiver.

Chefs Without Borders: Tasting Isfahan is an event in Seattle that focuses on bridging two hostile nations of Iran and the United States. The Seattle – Isfahan Sister City Association (SISCA) will be leading the charge to unite citizens of the world with food. The event will be held on October 12 at Palace Ballroom in downtown Seattle.

“Our wish for the Americans in attendance is that they walk away having learned much more about Iran and Isfahan, the culture and cuisine and most importantly, the Iranian-Americans with whom they share their community,” said Cathia Geller SISCA Board President.

No matter your country of origin, whether you are liberal, conservative or concertina player, we all eat to survive.

 

In Seattle, Premier Chef Tom Douglas will prepare a Persian feast for 160 guests with input from Isfahani chefs at the Palace Ballroom. The menu was carefully developed by Iranian-American Persian chef and author Najmieh Batmanglij.

Iran native Najmieh Batmanglij has spent the last 35 years cooking, traveling and adapting Persian recipes to Western taste and techniques. At times called the “Julia Child” of Persian cuisine, Batmanglij has authored Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies and Joon; Persian Cooking Made Simple.

“For me, being involved with [this event] is a continuation of what I have been doing for the past 35 years–advocating the best of Iranian culture, which is Persian food,” says Batmanglij.

“Food is a powerful international language.”

The four-course Persian meal will include the sensual scents and flavors of saffron and Persian rice, colorful vegetables, goat cheese, fresh herbs such as basil and mint, aromatic meats, and other items.

Tom Douglas is a Seattle-based executive chef, restaurateur, author and radio talk show host. He opened his restaurant, Dahlia Lounge, in 1989 and won the James Beard Award for Best Northwest Chef in 1994.

“Food is a powerful international language,” says Douglas. “I am inspired to participate in [this] creative reach across borders that otherwise have so many restrictions.”

He adds, the goal is to create “culinary connections” where presenters and attendees alike can learn from masters in another country’s cuisine.

Following the Chefs Without Borders events, Seattle-area Persian restaurants and grocery stores will offer a variety of special menus, classes, and discounts during the month of November.

“Now more than ever, is the time to celebrate what brings us together, not what divides us. What better way to share our Iranian culture and history, than to sit down with our neighbors and share a meal?” said Geller.

 

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