Context: I asked the informant if he wished to participate in the folklore project fifteen minutes after he had smoked a bowl of marijuana from a bong. He was extremely enthusiastic about participating in the collection project, but wasn’t sure exactly what I meant by “folklore.” I explained to him that it could be a traditional food that his parents make him, or something Iranian that he enjoys eating. His eyes lit up, and he slowly said, “Del o jigar.” I began recording, and asked him to explain what he meant by the term.
WD: What kind of foods do your parents make you? Like, what’s a comfort food that your mom makes?
DO: Actually, my mom hates this, but del-o-jigar. It’ basically cow liver, that’s jigar, and del is, like, ummm, the heart or intestines of the cow. It’s something. They both taste really, really good.
WD: So, where would you get it? Would your mom make it?
DO: Well for me, its like, you know, that guy with a kind of dirty restaurant. You’re in Tehran, and you’re looking around, like, damn, I’m hungry. So you walk in, you smell the smells of the meat, it smells gamey, like kind of a funky meat. Just like some really cool stuff. Then, they take it off the skewer, a little lime juice, a little greens, and a piece of bread… then grrrrrrr.
WD: Damn. So is that like, the equivalent of like a New York Slice, in a way?
DO: No, it’s like, street comfort food. It’s more like… it’s more like street tacos. In a weird kind of way. They even sell it here, I have a place I like.
Informant: The informant is a 19 year old, male Iranian-American USC student. He was raised in Los Gatos, California, and attended a private all-boys catholic school in San Jose, California. He has visited Tehran, Iran several times to visit extended family members, and has had this dish many times. He said that it’s better to purchase the food in Iran, but he occasionally buys it in the United States, as well. He informed me that it always reminds him of his heritage to indulge in the food, and when he’s feeling homesick, he’ll grab a bite to eat.
Analysis: Upon researching further, I found that del o jigar is the heart and the liver of the cow, roasted on a skewer and wrapped in taftoon, or flatbread. It is sold as street food in larger Iranian cities, such as Tehran. Historically, in Iran, cattle have been the basis for economic growth and expansion, holding deep significance in the traditional cuisine of the nation. Del o jigar is an extremely popular food to purchase while wandering the city of Tehran. The food is quick to make, relatively inexpensive, and can be made anywhere, making the food a near equivalent to a Los Angeles street taco.