Celebrating Lebanese Cuisine

I was thrilled to see the feature on Lebanese food in the New York Times travel section this Sunday.  I hope you’ll check it out here, along with a slide show of the Beirut restaurants profiled in the article by Seth Sherwood.

My husband is Lebanese and I’ve grown to love the cuisine — even more since I’ve traveled there and experienced the fabulous food first-hand.  Here’s a creamy bowl of hummus we enjoyed last summer in Lebanon…img_2073

I loved Seth’s description of his experience with hummus in a restaurant in Beirut.

“First up:  hummus.  Call it sacrilege, but I have never been excited by this humdrum dip.  But the others insisted, in a flurry of English and French (both of which are widely spoken in Beirut, although Lebanon’s official language is Arabic). Hummus is the best barometer of a Lebanese restaurant’s quality, Ranya explained.  Following her lead I took a corner of warm bread, rolled it into a cone (a nifty trick for scooping up dips) and tasted.  It was excellent: lush, mouth-filling, creamy and flavorful — like an earthy milkshake.”

The article also included a perfect description of tabbouleh.

Such moments are blissfully common in Lebanon, where even the most bland produce or unlikely meats undergo culinary hocus-pocus and emerge, Cinderella-like, as belles of the ball.  Parsley, elsewhere found more often as a throw-away garnish, becomes the basis of that zesty, lemony, tomato-filled, bulgur-sewn refresher known as tabbouleh. The zesty tabbouleh, everyone showed me, should be eaten not with a fork, but wrapped in a lettuce leaf.

So true.  Here’s the tabbouleh with romaine leaves we enjoyed in a restaurant in the mountains of Lebanon.
IMG_2155And here’s a visual culinary tour of my own trip to Lebanon…


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