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…
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.
And here’s a visual culinary tour of my own trip to Lebanon…