Lebanese home cooking to go
Posted by adiamondinsunlight on October 6, 2007
I consider eating good food to be one of life’s greatest pleasures. For dinner, I like a frequently changing menu: Mexican one night, Vietnamese the next, Italian the third.
At lunchtime, though, my tastebuds lose their sense of culinary adventure. Once I find a restaurant dish I like, I’m content to eat the same meal, day after day. Its a long-standing tradition for me: from 1st through 12th grade, I had a peanut butter and honey sandwich for lunch nearly every day, with minimal exceptions for leftover pizza (a big treat in our house).
My previous job was located downtown, and offered countless delivery options. I tried several of them, but settled quickly on a cafe that offered delicious baguette sandwiches.
Speed wasn’t a major factor in my decision. Although the cafe was just up the street from our office (and although making the sandwich involved only three steps: add tuna, add tomatoes, add greens), I would wait between half an hour and 90 minutes for my lunch to arrive. It didn’t matter, though – my fusty tastebuds had settled on its sandwiches, and they are very loyal consumers.
My new job is located across town, in a set of buildings whose security procedures do not seem very delivery friendly. Nor is there a refrigerator in which I could store any lunch I might bring from home. (My old standby, peanut butter and honey, would be an ideal solution had not the years of steady pb&h eating made me lose interest sometime around my 18th birthday.)
Happily, however, I discovered that even if delivery isn’t an option, takeaway is. And I have a gem of a takeaway place: a tiny cafe buried at the end of a side street, serving delicious Lebanese home-style cooking. They fill up a large take-out container with a selection of whatever mu2abilat they have available when I stop by, and I am invariably delighted by my meal.
Below is a photo of yesterday’s lunch, each item beautifully arranged in a row. This was the owner’s arrangement – the two servers tend to array the mezzes in more of a brick-laying pattern. But all three fill the take-out container with care and deliberation – even if I don’t understand why one prefers rows and another blocks of food, I can see that arranging everything just so matters to them. I think its a good sign – they take the food as seriously as I do!
From left to right: bamia (okra), arnabeet (cauliflower), hindbeh (dandelion greens), fajl (radishes), and mudardara (rice with lentils). Yum, yum, yum!