Have you ever tried a boiled sheep head? No? Does not sound appealing? How about eating a sheep head for breakfast? You would not?
Well, tasting food is an indispensable part of travelling which includes trying food which is not typical in your home country, and sometimes seems strange or looks/smells unpleasant, even disgusting.
When a couchsurfer Soroush from Shiraz asked us if we had already eaten a sheep head, we had to answer No. He was very passionately recommending us to try it, especially a tongue, cheeks and eyes. Eyes??????? was Mara’s reaction. Although we were quite surprised that this dish is a typical breakfast food in Iran we were determined to try it before we leave Iran.
In Isfahan our CS host recommended us to look for a place serving heads around Azadi sq. We arrived to the square and entered the first place we stumbled upon. It is a small eatery with big pots full of heads in boiling water.
After discussing price options we decided to order a portion with a tongue each. You can order a whole head or order its parts separately. The whole head was for 200 000 Rials (5,8USD), a portion with parts of a head for 50 000 Rials (1,47USD).
So heads are boiled in a big pot before they are served to clients.
We were told that one head can be shared by several people, and sometimes it can be too much for two persons. Tongues and cheeks are recommended as the best parts. Soroush (from Shiraz) loves eyes and highly recommended us to try them.
We decided to take it slowly and ordered two portions with tongues, and depending on the outcome to order more. From the pot with boiling broth heads are taken to a big deep plate where they are “dismantled” and prepared for being served to clients.
The “dismantle master” is happily performing his duties and laughs at such newbies as we are. Though everybody assured us that sheep heads are delicious the smell and sight of them were implying the opposite. I could not stop from thinking about our food experiments in China last year.
Order was taken and we took seats to wait for what was coming our way. Doubts were still present in our heads. The first to come was broth in metals bowls and bread. We cleared our minds from doubts and started….
The broth turned out to be quite tasty. Surprisingly it was flavored with cinnamon. Quite an unusual combination i must say. If added, lemon juice gives some freshness to the taste.
The second to come was the tongue which was quite good. Actually it was very tasty maybe a bit too oily. Eating the tongue we decided to ordered highly recommended cheeks and unusual food – eyes.
I imagined that eyes will look like….well, like eyes, balls of white with dark irises. But when the plate with cheek meat and eyes arrived I was not really able to make the eye from the rest of the meat on the plate. It took me a while till I actually found it. It was just a piece of meat, maybe looking a bit differently, but in general same muscle structure.
The taste is ok, not bad, not good. I still prefer the tongue and the cheek. All in all the taste was better than I expected, not unpleasant or anything. It is not a usual type of food in Ukraine, or Czech Republic. But it is far from being as bad as some of the Chinese dishes.
If you travel or plan to travel through Iran, you should definitely try it, if not the whole head at least a tongue and cheeks. Ask someone local for a good place to taste a sheep head.
Would you eat a sheep head for breakfast? What other unusual food have you tried?