Food, Vanity and Coke in Iran

From my experience thus far, it’s safe to say Iranians are not the healthiest eaters on the planet. Junk food is everywhere. Entire stores are filled with chocolate, cake and biscuits. This can’t be good for my veneers. Last year I shelled out for 2 (giant) veneers on my front teeth, because I noticed my front teeth were disappearing. As a friend put it when she saw them for the first time, ‘They’re quite… um, big aren’t they’. ‘They are, thanks. I was a little bit paranoid about them, now I’m very paranoid about them’. Next time you see a photo of me, look out for them – they’re the 2 large, luminous blocks under my top lip. Back to junk food in Iran, it’s like a western country, back before we realised junk food was bad and needed to be regulated (regulated by the junk food companies, of course). Often, on the long, long (long) bus journeys, I’m forced into battle conditions – stocking up on biscuits and chocolate simply to avoid hunger. ‘Where’s the fruit?’ I cry. Anyone who knows me, knows I’m a staunch advocate of fruit. Wherever I work, colleagues are amazed by my gigantic fruit bowl, and the speed at which it disappears. In Iran, sure – there’s fruit, but it either seems to be every single store, or none at all. If you’re in a village or bus terminal where it’s ‘none at all’, it’s sugar or (a big) bust. My body must be wondering what the hell is going on. It’s at the point now where, as I write this, I can actually feel the presence of my stomach below, in a way I’ve never felt before. Parts of it are hanging over the seat belt. There is even a little (gulp)… jiggling. ‘it’s just the bumpy road’ I tell myself. When Adrienne arrives in Dubai, I’m going to be one of those guys with a name-sign, so she recognises me, instead of wondering who the tubby little chap is that’s calling her. ‘Oh, it’s you. You look… different’. ‘Yeah, I’m hooked on sugary snacks, sorry’, as I stuff my face with biscuits and candy bars.

It’s all good though, I’m organised. Before the trip, I had her sign a vanity clause. I’m 33, very soon to be 34. In the next few years I reckon there’ll start being visible signs of hair loss. By my forties, it’ll all be on its way out. Put it this way, I’m not going to be one of those 60 year old men that still has a prosperous head of hair. I’m not bald, but I will be bald. And when that happens, there’s going to be some serious questions about the combination. ‘What combination?’ you ask. Well, I’m already short, and I’m certainly not going to resolve that issue. If anything, I’ll get shorter. That’s ok though, short guys can do just as well as regular guys – providing they have hair. So, the combination? I’ll be short, and bald. ‘Ouch, back of the queue thanks mate’. And then, what if work gets busy and I no longer have all this time for the gym, fitness and healthy eating. Short, bald and jiggly. ‘Ok, love, if you could just sign right here. Many thanks’, as I run my hand through my hair, and then brush away the hairs that fell out. I digress, back to Iran – the strange thing is, despite the ubiquity of junk food, I barely ever see a fat Iranian. They all seem to be snacking on biscuits, cakes and burgers all the time, yet most are built like match sticks. In the USA, it’s no mystery – junk food is everywhere, food portions are gigantic, and so are the people. Iran, please explain.

They are also obsessed with cola. They automatically assume you’ll have a bottle with your meal. I ended up just accepting it rather than saying ‘No, no cola. Juice’, then going through the whole production of pointing at the fridge trying to locate fruit juice, which may or may not exist. So, now I’m hooked on the stuff again. I was a one-a-day-guy back in the early noughties, i never touch it now though. Until now that is. When I eat my lunch or dinner, instead of being content with juice, I now think, ‘You know what this meal would benefit from? A nice cold bottle of coke. Oh Coke, its great stuff isn’t it’. I’ve started drinking bottles even when I’m not eating, just for fun. The long road to recovery begins again soon.

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