Tarof – Iran

“Tarof is a term we use to describe the form of etiquette or I guess concept that we have in our culture. For example, when someone comes over to your house, the host just keeps offering them food, and then more food and more food. Something my mom always says is ‘Ghaabell nadaare’. It’s a really common phrase that people use. I guess it basically means ‘you can have it.’ My mom was just telling me that when you go into stores, like the lady will just say ‘Oh it’s all yours, you don’t have to pay.’ But since it’s in their culture, the person shopping obviously knows that they still have to pay. It’s just part of our culture to kind of just say that out of courtesy. Also when you go out to dinner with multiple families, the two males of each household will basically fight over who pays for the check. It can be offensive to someone if they let the person pay without first offering to pay for it themselves. Tarof is just a form of civility.”


I think the ideals behind tarof are commonly shared among all Asian cultures. In Korean culture, it is very common at dinner for the male figures at dinner to fight over the check. It’s interesting how this culture works because it’s heavily based on understanding the real underlying meaning or implications of what the speaker is saying. For example, if the store keeper from my friend’s story had told me “you can have it”, I would not have understood that it was simply her way of being polite. She did not literally mean I could take the item. It would have required an understanding of tarof to recognize what she was really implying.