In his writings, the ancient historian Herodotus (ca. 450 BC) describes Persian food as “a model of civilization… and the epitome of alimentary sophistication.” The basis of this praise is rooted not only in the plethora of spices and flavorings the ancient Persians employed in their cuisine, but also in their cooking methods.
An ancient chamber oven was used and functioned as the cornerstone of food preparation. This oven, known as a tannur, was unique to the ancient Middle East and dates back to 2,000 BC. Documentation by several ancient texts and archaeological remains prove their importance in ancient Persian culture in both communal and familial uses. Ovens fueled by burning wood chips and logs flourished the aroma to the surrounding area. The tannur provided an efficient cooking tool that kept food tender and moist while further imbuing flavor through smoke and heat. Tannur complimented a lengthy process of marinating the meat. Ingredients such as saffron and cinnamon were essential in Persian food and earned it the deserved reputation as the “cultural baton of the east.”
Over time, the innovations of the Persians were passed to new generations and to foreign cultures gaining great renown in the Greco-Roman empire and beyond. The Downtowner Woodfire Grill keeps these ancient cooking traditions alive with an oak-burning oven and grill, carefully selected spices and flavors, and the commitment to satisfy palates. No doubt Herodotus would be pleased.