get Lebanese food off my mind. Maybe it was the visit to London last weekend
that included TWO visits to the excellent Ishbilia in Kensington), maybe it’s the genes, maybe it’s that Lebanese food is delicious
and we can’t get the real deal here in Bloomington. Whatever.
I have a
friend and fellow food writer who’s got the same yearning for grape leaves and
kibbeh, and we’ve been planning a communal feast for a while now – somewhere
off in the distant when-we’re-not-so-busy future. But I came home from London
hungry, and we’ve set a date for early December and invited enough friends to
fill a long table for ten.
morning we sat down with every Middle Eastern cookbook we own (there were more
than 20 on the table, including the one from my grandmother’s Syrian Orthodox
Church in LA, circa 1969) and began to plan. We are “just” going to do a mezze,
lots of small dishes, but by the time we got done listing the must-haves
(classics like hummus, tabouleh, kibbeh, labneh), some favorites from other
Middle Eastern cuisines (Imam Biyaldi!), and a few things we were seduced into
trying (like the gorgeous eggplant slices with yogurt, tahini and pomegranate
from Arabesque) the list, like all good mezze lists, grew long.
it looks something like this:
Hummus with fried lamb
Stuffed grape leaves
slices with yogurt, tahini and pomegranate
The prep has begun with mail order purchases of cheese, olives and chilies, and
the ordering of lamb. Tomorrow I will get the pickled turnips underway.
Presumably I will eat other things between now and Dec. 1, but my dreams are
running to zaatar over pumpkin pie spice just now.