In the new Hulu original series Taste the Nation, award-winning cookbook author and TV host Padma Lakshmi crisscrosses the U.S. exploring the food culture of various immigrant groups. She covers the Gullah Geechee people of South Carolina, Peruvian cuisine in New Jersey and what’s considered the mecca of Persian food in America: Los Angeles.
Los Angeles has the largest population of Iranians outside of Iran, and the stretch of Westwood Boulevard between Pico and Wilshire Boulevards is affectionately referred to by the community as “Tehrangeles.” Groceries, restaurants and other Persian businesses line the street, filled with immigrants who came to the U.S. in the late ’70s after the revolution in Iran. The community opens up about the misconceptions some Americans have about Iranians, and how they use food and hospitality to mend those fences.
In “Where The Kabob is Hot” episode, Lakshmi sits down with Shamshiri Grill owner Hamid Mosavi and talks about the prejudice of Iranians in America and how Persian food in Los Angeles is the link to a home they may never go back to. Up and down the boulevard it’s clear that kabob is a way of life in the shadow of the Wilshire corridor.
Bottom of the Pot cookbook author Naz Deravian takes Lakshmi on a shopping trip to the Tehran Market for basil, pickles, rose water, dates, feta cheese, sour cherry jam and saffron that is so valuable it’s kept behind the counter and only available under close supervision. At Deravian’s home, they prepare lamb shanks with the Persian art form of tahdig. The series premieres on Thursday, June 18.