Shiraz. A beautiful city, with wonderful restaurants, breathtaking historic vistas, the home of genius poets blah blah blah. Say Shiraz to a Canadian, and chances are, they won’t know it’s a city in Iran- they know shiraz as a popular version of a special sort of drink. So popular that a local blogger describes her state on a Friday night as being in a `shiraz haze`- signifying that the name of a brand has become almost synonymous with the product itself- think of Xerox for photocopying, or kleenex for tissue paper. Shiraz appears on the drink page of all menus, a queen.
We came across a market in the Dartmouth ferry station today- we didn`t know they had markets there on saturdays but they do and it was fun. And there was a guy offering free samples of shiraz- so naturally I rushed over and tried one- delicious, as to be expected. So we bought a bottle of shiraz.
”It has the name of a city in my country” I told the salesman proudly. Usually I need to vomit when I hear Iranians talking proudly about Iran and Isfahan and Hafez and Saadi and all that baggage, but today had been a nice day, sunny. We had just had a cappuccino and pain au chocolat in the best coffeeshop in HRM, and I was mellow, willing to let my various complexes and neuroses rest. However, the salesman looked at me blankly.
” Shiraz!” I said, pointing to the label, ”you know, it’s the name of a city in my country!”
He smiles politely, ”Oh- I didn’t know that!..uh…where do you come from?”
Duh! Where do you think the eyes and eyebrows and frizzy hair and long nose comes from? Winnipeg?
-”Iran! I come from Iran! and Shiraz is the name of a beautiful city there!” Is it so unreasonable to expect that a salesman who sells shiraz for a living know what shiraz is? They drag me away before I can beat him up out of wounded patriotic pride.
So there you have it. Our most famous export is not pistachios, carpets, saffron, or oil, as they would have you believe. It’s the name for a drink which is banned in our own country- and no-one even knows where it comes from. How typical. How typically Iranian.