Saturday, June 4, 2011

A Fat Kid's Tribute to Lebanese Food

It bears saying that my Refugee Mother is Lebanese. I ought to also mention that her parish, St. Elias, has a massive Lebanese Festival the weekend after Memorial Day. ...or, right now. Being a good fake daughter, that is exactly where I headed after work last night and where I was at 8:00a this morning (okay, okay, more like 8:30a.) I am currently on my four-hour reprieve and opted to come home for a nap, a diet coke and some AC.

Aside from a shameless promotion for the St. Elias Lebanese Festival (Honestly, if you're anywhere near the valley, you should stop by. We have a TON of food, dancing, beer, wine, a raffle ... food. No seriously, we have food.), this post is to honor all those things I adore about how they make the delicious things they do in the middle east.My Top Ten Happiest Lebanese Foods
1. Hummus. Chick pea, garlic, olive oily goodness. I could happily sit in a corner with a bowl and just eat it with a spoon.
2. Tabbouleh. As a child (okay, we still go all the time), my parents would take us to the Lebanese Taverna Market where we would stuff our faces with schwarmas, couscous, hummus and the like. I never liked tabbouleh growing up because I thought parsley was weird, but at some point in high school, I realized it was glorious and couldn't get enough. There were nights at my Refugee Camp where dinner was a fork, an enormous bowl of tabbouleh, and a glass of wine. Amazing. Today I've made some obscene amount of tabbouleh and it has been fantastic. 20 cups parsley, 16 cups bulgar wheat, a few healthy handfuls of mint, and other large portions of necessary ingredients. Taste-testing is a necessity that I am more than happy to fulfill.
3. Labneh. I never ate much of it prior to living with my Refugee Parents, but this combination of strained yogurt, cucumbers, dried mint and lemon juice is one of the happiest dipping sauces known to man. It's refreshing for summer and I enjoy it even just as a side salad.
4. Kibbeh. (I have seen about 12 variations of spelling of kibbeh this weekend ranging from "kibby," to "kibbi" and "khibbe," I have no idea what the proper spelling is.) Ground beef or lamb, onions, bulgar wheat, mint and a dash of perfection. Whatever recipe they use at St. Elias is truly written by the Big Man Upstairs. I inhaled a portion last night around 10p when I left, and decided it was the most satisfying dinner I've ever had.
5. Stuffed Grape Leaves. I even need to explain why these are so mind-blowing? When I celebrated Easter with my Refugee Parents and their family, I ate a plate of approximately ten of these. Yesterday, they were my go-to snack.
6. Baklava. Honey. Pistachios. Phyllo dough. Win.
7. Anything grilled, roasted, from a dead animal. I don't know how, but the Lebanese just do it better than the rest of us.
8. Anything with spinach. Spinach and cheese roll ups in phyllo, spinach pies. Good God yes please.
9. Beer. Similar to Heineken, in my opinion, Almaza is crisp, sharp and refreshing. I highly recommend pairing it with their fantastic dead animals.
10. Knefe. Phyllo. Honey. Cheese. delicious.

So stop on by St. Elias and get your fat kid ON. Or, if you don't live in the valley, find somewhere where you can get your fat kid on. Because this stuff's amazing.

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