Meet the Instagramer: @labnoon on Iranian cuisine

We’re following Saghar Setareh, a Rome-based food and travel writer and photographer, originally from Iran.

By National Geographic Traveller Food
Published 12 Sept 2019, 17:30 BST, Updated 26 May 2021, 13:43 BST
One of Saghar Setareh's pictures
One of Saghar Setareh's pictures.
Photograph by Saghar Setareh

What kind of food did you grow up with?

We mostly ate adas polo (pilau with lentils) which I adored, or ghormeh sabzi (Persian lamb stew with herbs and beans). There were also lots of chicken soups, braised chicken or other meats with vegetables. 

How would you describe the food cultures in Iran and Italy?

In Iran, we’re subconsciously obsessed with the balance of grease and acid. No meaty meal is complete without something sour on the side — whether it’s pickles, strained yogurt or both. Italian food is different — the magic lies in the combination of very few, but excellent ingredients. 

You host Persian cooking classes — what made you launch those?

I launched the first class as a side project and it sold out almost immediately. It’s my favourite way of introducing Persian culture to people in the West who might have a different image of Iran. 

What do you miss most about Iranian food?

A decent Persian barbecue, which isn’t just kebabs, but fire-grilled liver, heart and other innards. Also kashk, a strained, salty whey that’s hard to find; sour cherries with salt; and the abundance of herbs.

Where are your favourite places to eat in Rome?

Roman food is simple and rustic; there’s a stall in Testaccio Market called Mordi e Vai that serves Roman classics such as tripe in tomato sauce or pajata (suckling veal’s intestine) as sandwiches. Marigold in the Ostiense neighbourhood is a restaurant with a Nordic soul and local ingredients — it’s what Rome’s been missing. 

Where’s on your culinary hitlist?

Turkey and Lebanon, and later hopefully Georgia and Azerbaijan.

One of Julius Robert's pictures.
Photograph by Julius Robert

Three to follow: Saghar's favourite Instagramers

1.@telltalefood — Julius is a young and knowledgeable English farmer, who focuses on sustainability and animal welfare.

2. @bakingfiction — Whether they’re of home-made food or other simple pleasures, Kate’s posts always start with a quote, often food-related.

3. @ladyandpups — Lee’s photography is striking. It’s moody and dark, which I really appreciate in a world full of sugar-coated images.

Follow Saghar on Instagram

Published in the September 2019 issue of National Geographic Traveller Food

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