It was my sister Ellen who first suggested I start a blog back when I first moved to London in 2009 and wasn't allowed to work there. I created my own site on Wordpress and just started writing and sharing recipes. I still have all of that content....and may share something from the "archives" from time to time, but here I've tried to include my newest stories which are more thoughtful musings on food, culture, my personal history and where those things intersect.
Looking back, it is likely Zeinab Kashmar who was cooking in the kitchen at Tawlet the very first time I went in 2016. Nestled off the main street of Mar Mikhael, the restaurant with its extensive buffet lunches, featured a different talented cook from somewhere in Lebanon each day. It was a place to get a home cooked meal like your mom might make, but better, all while showcasing the rich culinary traditions, variations, and ingredients of the country. These were dishes passed down through generations, subtle and delicious. The room was filled with plants suspended over a large communal table, the buffet tucked into the adjoining room. That day, just barely into my time in Beirut, I couldn’t have imagined where my career and culinary explorations in the country would take me.
A Jordanian vacation post I wrote 10 years ago. At the time we were visiting from a dreary, sort of isolated feeling London so Amman was pure bliss filled with sunshine and lots of family and friends. As I head there to visit again, with a very different perspective on the city and the region in general, it was perfect to read this and be reminded of how I started to fall in love with the Middle East all those years ago.
Why is storytelling important and what do we gain or loose from the stories that come across our paths?
An introduction to the famed Lebanese singer Fairouz.
Watching The Bear over the holidays made me a bit homesick for professional kitchens.
The final seven! Today I turn 50 and in this final list of seven things you might not know about me, I'm struck by how life has come full circle for me in many ways. I'm also so thankful for how lucky I've been (see number 7 below as a perfect example). Making this list of 28 things ultimately, has been a delightful exercise in celebrating not just me but the many people who have been in my life: my parents and sisters, my husband, and the people who perhaps just crossed paths with me briefly. Each and every one had a part in these weird and wonderful things that make me me. As I celebrate today, and look forward to the next 50 years, I urge all of you to take stock in a similar way and let's cheer each other on, celebrate this short time we have here with those we love.
I spent a lot of time in taxis in Beirut and got to know many of the drivers from High Taxi so that it felt like they were family. On our recent trip back there in October we were reunited with many of them and I can't tell you how happy I was to see these men who were constants in my life. This is the story of them and the leg of wild boar gifted to me by one of them during the tumultuous revolution in 2019.
Mograbieh is very similar to what you might know as pearl couscous. It's a semolina, still often hand-rolled, grain that is traditionally stewed with chicken or meat. I like to use it in side dishes and salads as it keeps its shape beautifully and once you know how to manage the high starch content, you have a lovely vehicle for whatever flavors you want it to take on. Here's a little more about it!
The story of sisters Youmna Ghorayeb and Layla Maalouf who created Mymoune, one of the best Lebanese brands of mouneh or pantry/preserved items. These seasonally prepared jars are a crucial element in any household's kitchen and nothing grown in a Lebanese mountain garden goes to waste! I spent a lovely day with the sisters up at their factory and originally wrote this profile of them for the Empowering Women Through Cooking Lebanon book.