Monday Meal Review: Lebanon


THE SCENE: I am five minutes into mashing and squashing an entire head of garlic, when I realize I am not really sure what people mean when they say "I cook with my heart." My kitchen is littered with garlic peels. The papery petals stick to my fingers when I try to scrape them up. This is my second head of garlic for the day. Earlier, I roasted an entire head of garlic for the baba ghanoush. Two heads of garlic is a lot for one single, solitary meal. For the 2.5 of us. I laugh. How … [Read more...]

Recipe: Mountain Gnocchi (Maakroun)


Gnocchi is always associated with Italy. Gondolas. Striped shirts. Butter and sage. But take a trip southeast, across the Mediterranean, to the old mountain villages of Lebanon and you'll encounter something very similar. It's called Maakroun -  a thick homemade pasta that is either fried and served sweet, or boiled and served with an intense garlicky lemon sauce called toum. While Maakroun is not made with potatoes, the shape is nearly the same - a little longer perhaps. I would have never … [Read more...]

Recipe: Kiss your Mother Garlic-lemon Sauce (Toum)


Adding a handful of spices to a pot of sauce can be cause to say "Bam." Or so I've heard. But how about making sauce with an entire head garlic? Raw garlic? Raw garlic with nothing but a heap of lemon juice and olive oil to thin it out? They do it in Lebanon. And it's fabulous. Just one thing ... No one will ever kiss you again. Except your mother. Bam! NOTE: Use sparingly. Especially on hot days, when your pores are likely to sweat out the scent of this intense pasta … [Read more...]

Recipe: Baby-mama’s Spiced Tea (Ainar)


I drink a lot of tea, so I would have thought I'd seen it all. Apparently not. Introducing Ainar, the tea brewed especially for baby mama's and the guests who stop in to dote on their pretty newborns. In case you didn't know, Mamas need lots of things after having a baby. Rest. Love. Good, warm food. And this tea. The cool thing about Ainar is the treat at the bottom of the cup. Nuts. After cooking a bunch of warming, fragrant spices like cinnamon, caraway, anise, and nutmeg … [Read more...]

Recipe: Baba Ghanoush with Roasted Garlic


When I'm at parties I like to dip, dip, dip. You'll recognize me immediately - I'm the one in the corner, filling up on dip before the meal ever comes. And if, for some reason, I'm not? Just know that's where I really want to be. When it comes to dips, baba ganoush is everything I never thought it would be.  Roasted eggplant, far from bitter, transforms into a smoky and smooth treat , able to fill my belly in just the right sort of way - without that greasy, pop-out-my-bellybutton feeling … [Read more...]

Menu: Lebanon


In between brushing Ava's hair, making her breakfast and playing with scissors, paper and glue, I like to pretend we're traveling. This week it's all about Lebanon. I tell her about mountains and snow. We look at pictures of bustling city and sleeping country. We watch clips online. We talk about the pretty trees and the winding roads. She responds to it all by saying, in her sweet broken toddler-tongue "I want go, right now." "Where," I ask? I smile, leading her to repeat the … [Read more...]

About the food of Lebanon

The Cedar Forest in Al Arz, Lebanon. Photo by Aboluay.

Let's climb around the mountains of Lebanon, shall we? Depending on the time of year, we might find a heavy haze of snow. In the hush and slush we can work up an appetite. Lebanon's very name is inspired by her snow-capped mountains - Lebanon literally means white land. And, even in the humid summers, when the snow has long since melted, the sandy-sandstone  still looks white. Let's pick our way between needly cedars, crumbly rocks, and thin brush, to our first meal. Your … [Read more...]