A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

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!

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From left to right: bamia (okra), arnabeet (cauliflower), hindbeh (dandelion greens), fajl (radishes), and mudardara (rice with lentils). Yum, yum, yum!

8 Responses to “Lebanese home cooking to go”

  1. You going to give up the secret? Looks great! Where is this place?

  2. sporty diamond said

    Looks delicious! Ahh…creamy pb&h…remember the few days when our lunches would get switched and you’d end up with my chunky pb plain and I would get yours with honey? That was always such a bummer as I was always hungry and ready to eat and for some reason I just did not (and still do not) like honey. I still can’t believe how much we enjoyed the SAME sandwich day after day after day after day. I always looked forward to it like you did, day after day, year after year! Glad you found a new tasty take-out place – looks great! xoxo

  3. Michelle, I just emailed you with directions – we can all go this week if you’re free!

    And Sporty D, you are SO right. The chunky pb-no-honey was always such a sad sad thing to find in my lunch bag. All those peanut chunks and nothing to sweeten the sandwich up made for a sad lunch day. What funny girls we were, having such specific – and repetitive! – tastes! xoxo to you too!

  4. bharthiae said

    Its lunch time when I am making these comments. The dish looks great. But do’nt yo eat bread too, Naan,roomali roti, or even tandoori roti would go great with the dish. Sadly I can’t go and share the dish with you but like you I too celebrate good and delicious food.
    Pot luck and may you enjoy !

    wwww.bharthiae.wordpress.com

  5. intlxpatr said

    Oh, that looks SOOOOOO good! Such a variety of delicious tastes!

    (Chunky, chunky all the way.🙂 )

  6. […] unknown wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptAnd 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 … […]

  7. we were eating mujadara on the same day! I made myself a batch and ate it with relish as I watched my husband sucking down more oily, fried Ramadan food. He won’t touch it, he says it’s “poor people food” and apparently we’re to posh:P I still remember one of my Palestinian friends mocking my mujadara-love saying, “we only condescend to eating that after EVERYTHING is the house has been eaten!”
    How bourgeois of them!

  8. Bhartiae,
    I love bread, and I eat it with every meal – including lunch! But I couldn’t get the bread to photograph nicely. (Same with the silverware, which I also do use but couldn’t make “work” with the photo.)

    Khalti,
    It _is_ good! I like the variety of flavors – my tastebuds are happy after each meal.

    SSW,
    I love your blog – I love your wit, your perspective, and your stories! And I can totally see how mjaddara and mudardara might be pooh-poohed as peasant food – lentils and rice as opposed to rich meat and other dishes. But the pooh-poohers are missing out – lentils and rice, in any form, is one of my favorite food combinations. Sahtein l-illik!

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