Two families are finishing up dinner.
Waiter/Waitress asks if there is anything else they need.
Both parties agree they are all set and ready for the check…
And then IT begins.
All wallets are reached for, hands push other parties wallets away, feelings of pride arise, “I will pay” “No, I will, it’s ok” “No really..I will” all while the other tables turn to watch the show. Chaos has risen.
I have witnessed this “Tarof Moment” so many times that it barely phases me at this point. But when younger, I went through various stages of thought. There was the “my parents are fighting with my friends parents!” stage…to “my friends parents are fighting with MY parents!” stage and then the “do either of these parents want to even pay??” stage.
Ultimately though, this behavior demonstrates our belief in hospitality and respect. This back and forth is very common in our culture and in various different circumstances. It is a custom to deny, and a custom to request.
Here is another good example below from this website “Chai & Conversation”
“A good example of tarof is that when you visit someone’s house, they must offer you something to eat or drink. Even if you are extremely thirsty or hungry, you must refuse the offer. They in turn must keep reinstating the offer, and indeed bring you food and drink, even if they are not prepared to give it to you.”
So back to the first example. The next time you are out to dinner with a group of Iranians, and especially if you would like to be invited again, just reach for your wallet.
What other examples can you think of? Let me know and stay tuned for more stories!