In 2012, Iran launched the National Information Network, a locally controlled version of the internet, which is open to the public and works sort of like a private Intranet network. For obvious reasons, it does not offer access to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter but does have very fast traffic to 500 government-approved Iranian sites.
After the initial phase of the “Halal Net” was completed, Iran’s communications and information technology minister at the time, Mahmoud Vaezi, held an inauguration ceremony. The benefits of this national network are its high speed and relatively low cost. The Irani government are hoping that the NIN will make the regular internet less appealing and irrelevant over time.
Special Ice Cream
It is often hot in Iran, and locals have a special way of cooling down, they eat plenty of Faloodeh. It is a traditional Iranian dessert which is reminiscent of sorbet and is made with noodles. Thin vermicelli-sized noodles made from starch are used and placed in a semi-frozen syrup containing sugar and rose water. This classic dessert is frequently served with lime juice and ground pistachios.
Faloodeh is sold in coffee shops and ice cream parlors and is offered in flavors like saffron, pistachio, rosewater and honey. It may sound unusual but many who have tried it claim it is both refreshing and delicious, and it only costs the equivalent of about 15 US cents.
Almost A Record
In a bid to promote healthy eating, Iran decided to try and create the world’s largest sandwich and record it in the Guinness book of world records. They had 1,500 cooks working for two days to place 2,000 lbs. of ostrich meat into the 5,000-foot-long sandwich. They intended to display the giant sub in a park in Tehran.
Unfortunately, things did not go according to plan. When the time came to measure the sandwich, the public lost control and the whole thing was devoured within minutes, leaving the Guinness officials unable to capture a reliable measurement. Luckily pictures and videos of the massive meal remain.
The Good Stuff
It’s no secret that Iran is rich in oil, but did you know that they are also one of the world’s largest producers of other rare and expensive delicacies. Iran is a major exporter of luxury goods such as caviar, pistachios and saffron.
The country actually controls 50% of the Caspian Sea caviar market which is extremely lucrative. The eggs of a Beluga (sturgeon) are worth about $160 per ounce (28 grams). However, this industry may not be around for much longer because the fish, who have a life span of up to 100 years, are becoming more and more rare due to overfishing. Environmental activists are doing everything they can to get caviar fishing banned and preserve the species.
The Customs of Taarof
Taarof is a complicated social system that can be seen everywhere in the daily life of Iran. The ancient Persian word means “meeting together” and the different behaviors of Taarof are the social glue of Iranian culture and help level the playing field between people of different social positions.
The custom stems from the Persian traditions of treating guests with the highest form of respect. Taarof is basically a negotiation between two people in which one refuses to accept things and the other presses them to do so. It is important to remain polite and refuse to keep from seeming greedy. This custom is especially confusing to foreigners, who may not understand why their taxi driver is refusing payment or that they shouldn’t accept a second helping of dinner in a Persian home even if it is offered to them.