Exploring the beauties of Kashan, Iran

February 14, 2015


I can smell baked bread. They make this round bread about 50cm large, thin, baked in a round hoven, sometimes with fennel or sesame seeds, they buy 2 or 20 pieces, carry it around in their arms, with no waste of plastic or paper. Then they offer it to us for breakfast or dinner and we love it. For the sandwiches we have at lunch they use a bread similar to baguette, but soft and chewy.

Fin’s Garden

2h15pm We’re back to the hotel to drink a cup of tea and rest a bit. Today we had our share of walking. We went to Fin’s Garden, Bagh-e Fin, a Unesco World Heritage Site, where’s there’s a magic source of water, because they can’t tell where it comes from. Here Amir Kabir, a Prime Minister that annoyed the wrong people, was first kept prisoner and then killed, while he was bathing in the hammam.

While we were waiting for the bus to go back to town (the gardens are about half an hour by bus from the town), a shop keeper gave me a terrible perfume (here rose water is quite popular, but the one he gave me was particularly old) and in exchange he asked for a pen from Italy. It was an exchange I did happily.

Bazaar in Kashan

Back to town, an elder lady that hold my hand for quite some time wanted us to take the taxi to the bazaar; I think she was disappointed when I told her we preferred to walk; I guess she hoped to be helpful.

At the bazaar, Ali (a “guide” of the bazaar; basically he catches tourists and takes them to see his “cousins'” shops) showed us his friend’s carpets, but the friend got upset when he heard Ali was offering the carpets at 50 dollars, while their cost (for tourists) is 100. Maybe Ali knew the price is 50 for Iranians; but I don’t think so; probably his friend wanted to negotiate a bit more. Anyway, we couldn’t have bought a carpet for any price. We are at the beginning of our trip, we would have to carry the carpet in our backpack for 10 more days.

Another sandwich, this time with sausage, and later here, at our super quiet hotel, because I couldn’t walk any longer. It’s also very hot, I wasn’t expecting it. My winter coat is too heavy, but I can’t take it off because I need something to cover my behind.

Traditional houses in Kashan

5.53pm We are at Abbasi traditional restaurant in Kashan. We had a mix coffee (basically nescafé, that Luca likes a lot because it’s super sweet) and yogurt with cucumber and cumin. We ordered Massama Bademjan (aubergine) with Camel Meat and Abbasi Special Dizzi (ram, white beans, chickpea and onion). It’s probably going to be quite expensive, but it’s Valentine’s day! 😛

Abbasi is one of the traditional houses of Kashan.

Earlier we were at the Tabatabei, another house with beautiful plasters and mirrors; then at Hammam-e Sultan Mir Ahmad, a beautiful turkish bath, very well renovated, rich in majolica, one of the best of Iran; the roof has small domes partially in glass, to let only the right amount of light in. And here, the Abbasi, is a traditional house with 5-6 floors.

Almost all houses are doing some renovations. Walls are made in sand and straw and plasters are very delicate, they need costant maintenance.

Eating in Iran

With tea (called chai, like in India) or coffee they bring you spiced biscuits or dates. In Tehran I saw people taking dates from trays at the entrance of some shops; I thought they were stealing, but they were actually gifted. Where we had dinner in Tehran there were some delicious pralines, that were offered before dinner.

Tea for two in Kashan: tea, sugar and dates
Tea for two in Kashan

The Dizzi is served in a bowl narrow and tall; inside there’s a soup and the meat with chickpeas. You have to pour the soup in a dish, while meat and chickpeas are crushed inside the bowl. At the end the mixture is put in a plate and eaten with bread. Luca says he hasn’t eaten anything this good in his whole life. He was very satisfied.

We ate a lot and all delicious, all for 10 euro. It’s nothing, if you consider that in Italy you don’t buy a pizza for one person at 10 euro. But we have a 100 euro per day budget, and we have to pay attention to what we spend. Today it’s ok, it’s Valentine’s, but we can’t afford this every day.

Anyway, walking back to the guesthouse I found a banknote of the same amount of money… 10 euro, that here feel like 50!