After being thoroughly inundated with Middle Eastern food, it’s hard not to eat a lot of Baba Ghanouj. It’s something of a way of life to many: almost everyone in Turkey had their own recipe for Baba Ghanouj. Some would add small hints of cayenne, others would swear by charcoal grilling, the list goes on and on. I even had a cook come out of the kitchen as I was eating my Baba Ghanouj to explain exactly how his Baba Ghanouj was made and why it was superior.
I’ve always loved eggplants (aubergines, for my international readers), but I’ve only really experienced eggplant in all its magnificence as a Baba Ghanouj. It works on every level of eggplant, showcasing just how complex and interesting an eggplant can be. The distinct bitterness coupled with the acidic kick is just unbeatable as far as dips go. And that heavenly roasted taste, with just a hint of smoke, oh! But I always had this sinking suspicion at the back of my mind as I was eating Baba Ghanouj that I could never achieve the same flavor, even if I tried. This thought sent me spiraling into an eggplant filled depression. I couldn’t sleep at night, for fear that I would dream of inferior Baba Ghanouj. Every waking hour, I would pace the room, still in my pajamas, scribbling down ideas and quickly discarding them when I realized how stupid they all were. I was a broken man.
Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating. But it was disappointing, the first attempt. Even after researching all the key components, the techniques and flavors, I had ended up with the wrong type of Tahini, added too much of it, over-roasted the eggplant, and slightly burnt my finger. What I was done, all I had to show was a watery bowl of eggplant fortified, Tahini flavored dip. My family politely stomached it amid the rest of the successful Turkish dinner. I resolved to do better.
About a week later, I came home from work with a new eggplant, an actual tin of Tahini, and a drive to make some Baba Ghanouj. This time, it went off fairly well. I shied away from using too much Tahini or lemon juice, and the Baba Ghanouj turned out very well, very pungent and delicious. After a few more tries, I had achieved something almost identical to what I have grown to love. My disappointment was dissolved, and I was ready to go back into the day to day flow of life, knowing that I would have a bowl of Baba Ghanouj waiting in my fridge if anything went wrong. This Baba Ghanouj has a strong kick of bitterness and acidity from the eggplant, lemon, and raw garlic, but the flavor is rounded and smooth due to the tahini and a generous amount of salt, along with the strong garlicky flavor. All components are crucial to making the right combination of flavors to achieve the perfect Baba Ghanouj. Of course, you could roast the eggplant on a grill (which would probably impart some nice smoky flavor), but it does just as well without it. In fact, many Turks claimed that Baba Ghanouj is overpowered by grilling it, so don’t feel too ashamed by cheating in the oven. The main idea is to get it completely cooked and to develop the natural earthy bitterness of the eggplant.
-1 large eggplant -1 lemon, juiced -2 cloves garlic, minced -3 tablespoons tahini paste -1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling -2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for brushing -freshly ground black pepper
Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F. Score the skin of the eggplant with a paring knife, cutting through the skin but not the flesh. Rub the eggplant with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, going lighter with the pepper than with the salt. Place the eggplant on a baking dish and bake for 40 minutes, until the skin is brown and wrinkled.
Remove from the oven and let cool until you can handle it comfortably. Peel off the skin gently and discard it, along with the top end. Leave the eggplant intact and the seeds inside. Add the eggplant to a food processor along with the lemon juice, garlic, tahini paste, olive oil, and salt. Blitz in the food processor until smooth and pasty. Add extra salt if needed, honey if its too bitter, olive oil if its too thick. Transfer to a shallow bowl and allow it to cool for another 15 minutes. Wrap the bowl with plastic wrap and transfer to the fridge. Keeps for about a week.
(Please forgive the stock photo; as un-photogenic as my Kibbeh was, I did the true food blogger thing and garnished the hell out of it, snapping a few dozen pictures from every angle, only to find that my memory card is too full of photos to accommodate any more, so I have no pictures of my Kibbeh. I promise I’ll make it again soon and take an actual picture to add to this post later. For now, the stock photo will give you the general idea.)
Throughout my entire life, I’ve always loved meat. There have been many times when I’ve wondered, “Is there a way I can make a giant slab of meat have something resembling nutritional balance so that I don’t have to eat salad or potatoes alongside my meat?” I considered this query to be simply an idle one, and it’s solution was something of a pipe dream for me. Of course, this was only until I discovered Kibbeh.
Kibbeh is a Middle Eastern dish made of ground meat and bulgur wheat, usually containing a melange of spices. It can be prepared a number of ways, either forming it into balls to stuff with a spice mix and then fry them, or simply patting the mixture out into a flat baking dish and baking the mixture. Sometimes, it’s even eaten raw. The meat in question can be lamb or beef, although usually lamb is used. I’ve had it with both, and although I much prefer lamb, I make mine with beef because ground lamb is expensive. Spices are generally more aromatic and deep, with the spice hitting the back of your mouth. This dish is not an everyday sort of dish: it is usually made for a special occasion, or when an honored guest comes to dine with you. It is not a main course, although it compliments many main courses very well and is usually part of the dinner spread at any special dinner.
The thought of this highly spiced brick of Middle Eastern meat had me excited. After some research, I have discovered some important tips for making and eating Kibbeh:
1. The meat should be finely ground so that it mixes well with the bulgur wheat, and it should also have a fair ratio of meat to fat. For this application, ground sirloin is your best friend. Ask your butcher to run it through the grinder three times so that the meat is very fine.
2. Bulgur wheat must be soaked beforehand, preferably for two hours. Rinse it just like you would do with rice, then put the bulgur wheat in a bowl and cover with cold water. The water should be about 1/2 inch above the top of the bulgur wheat so that you can maximize the amount of soaking it can do. Your bulgur wheat will at least double in size when it is soaked, so 1 cup of dry bulgur wheat will equal approximately 2 cups of soaked bulgur wheat. This is important, as many recipes will not tell you how many soaked cups you need, just how many dry cups.
3. Kibbeh, like any other meat dish, must rest for at least five minutes to let the juices redistribute and absorb before serving. In fact, Kibbeh is usually served at room temperature, or just slightly warm. That being said, don’t leave your Kibbeh out for hours on end: sanitation takes priority. Your Kibbeh should be safe for about 2 hours at room temperature. Any more than that and you’re in the danger zone. Store un-eaten Kibbeh in the refrigerator: it will keep for about a week. Heat it in a microwave beforehand, or, if you’re like me, eat it cold, just like that last slice of Costco pizza.
4. Kibbeh can be part of a meal or a snack. If you are eating it raw, I highly suggest using a piece of pita to scoop up some Kibbeh and shovel it gluttonously into your gaping maw. If it has been cooked, it is perfectly acceptable to eat Kibbeh with your hands, although it can be eaten with pita as well. It is rare to add sauces to it, although tzatziki is sometimes okay, or especially a hot chili paste, because then you’re so tough that the regular amount of spice is too wimpy for your palette.
5. Just as you know from making meatloaf or meatballs, ground meat becomes tough when overmixed: this is especially true of Kibbeh. Although, there is some amount of toughness expected when consuming Kibbeh, just as long as the Kibbeh isn’t the same texture as a football. Mix well until everything is incorporated evenly, but be careful not to mix too much, or you Kibbeh will be as tough and dry as Margaret Thatcher.
6. And finally, make sure the spices you are using are not stale. Yes, I know it sounds stupid, but spices can go bad. It takes a long time, but they will eventually clump together, lose their flavor, and go rancid, and as Alton Brown might say, “That’s not good eats.” The spices are a very important part of Kibbeh, so you owe it to yourself to make sure your spice rack is well stocked and fresh. That big jar of cayenne that’s been sitting at the back of your spice rack since you moved into the house and won’t come apart without the use of a mallet? Yeah, probably time for some new cayenne.
With all this in mind, I will leave you with a recipe for Kibbeh that will please guests at a special dinner party or satisfy a midnight grazer.
-2 pounds finely ground meat (beef or lamb) -1 cup dry bulgur wheat (should become at least 2 cups when soaked) -olive oil -3 cloves of garlic, minced -1 1/2 teaspoon dried mint -1 teaspoon paprika -1 teaspoon corriander -1 teaspoon black pepper -1 teaspoon Kosher salt -3/4 teaspoon cayenne -1/2 teaspoon cloves -1/2 teaspoon cinnamon -1/2 teaspoon chili powder -1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
In a large bowl, rinse the bulgur wheat, then soak it for two hours. Add 1 cup of the soaked bulgur wheat to a food processor with all of the spices and the garlic. Mix well, until all the spices are combined and the bulgur wheat is clumping together. Add 1 more cup of the soaked bulgur wheat and mix well.
Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F with a rack directly in the middle. Transfer the bulgur wheat mixture to a bowl and add the ground meat. Use your hands to thoroughly incorporate the spices and the bulgur wheat. Lightly oil a baking dish, 9 x 12, or a roughly similar size. Press the meat into the baking dish in a solid brick covering the bottom of the baking dish. The meat mixture should be about an inch thick. Lightly oil the top of the Kibbeh and cut the Kibbeh in diagonal lines just before sliding into the oven. Bake for about 35 minutes, until the edges are browned and there is some juice in the pan.
Let the Kibbeh sit loosely tented with foil for about 10 minutes, until it’s cool enough to handle. Cut in a diamond pattern and serve either directly from the baking dish or on a platter.
A fairly new restaurant opened just down the street from the Pho place I go to. It’s called Gyros House and the sandwich board on the corner has both English and Arabic advertisements. I immediately thought this to be a good sign, so I stopped in before work one day to try it out.
It’s a fairly rudimentary interior with just a few chairs and tables. The decoration consists of an ungodly amount of pictures on the wall, some of them famous paintings, others advertisements for Gyros (“Eat Kronos”, which seems beautifully ironic to the classicist in me). The family who owns the place and works there is very friendly, and perfectly happy to accommodate both someone who knows nothing about Middle Eastern food and someone who is an expert on it at. It reminds me of the little doner shops around Istanbul, except in Everett.
In terms of food, they do a fairly good job. The Lamb Shawarma has a wonderful ratio of meat to veggies, and their tzatziki sauce is nice and light, with a hint of coriander. Same is true of the gyro. Both meats are cooked perfectly, the gyro slices thick and meaty, and the shawarma slices are juicy and a little bit smoky, holding all the lamby integrity within. Of course, they serve salads as well. They’re deceptively simple, but quite delicious with a light sprinkling of fresh feta and a few olives. Of course, I had to try the baba ghanouj, which was wonderfully done. It was so smooth and just slightly bitter, with a drizzle of oil over the top. They also arranged two olives and an onion slice on top of the baba ghanouj to make a smiley face; being a cynical bastard, I’m usually pretty blase about this, but it managed to make me laugh and appreciate the baba ghanouj a bit more. I always like eating where people have fun with their food. The baklava, an essential part of any Middle Eastern eating experience, comes in two varieties: regular and pistachio. The pistachio baklava, while interesting, is packed with such a rich, crunchy pistachio filling that it detracts from the delicate layers of phylo above it. Very tasty and somewhat nostalgic, this baklava is soaked with a light honey sauce that will get all over your fingers as you eat it (the way it should be). The normal baklava is also wonderful, and the textural contrast works better, although the flavors are more delicate and subdued. Either way, Gyros House makes some killer baklava.
The really amazing thing is that you won’t end up paying more than about $6 for anything on their menu. An big lunch can be $10 and incredibly satisfying. For Middle Eastern food on the north end, Gyros House does an exceptional job with both their food and their prices. It’s a friendly environment that cares about their food and does it well, and that really shines through.
<a href=”http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/1/1234141/restaurant/Seattle/Gyro-House-Everett”><img alt=”Gyro House on Urbanspoon” src=”http://www.urbanspoon.com/b/link/1234141/biglink.gif” style=”border:none;padding:0px;width:200px;height:146px” /></a>
As many of you know, I work as a food writer for my college newspaper. My editors are lovely people, but sometimes I wonder if they know how much it costs to write about food every week when I’m not getting reimbursed. Usually its fine, because I would probably spend money on food anyway. But this week, since we have two weeks to write our articles (there’s no paper printed during spring break), my editors had a brilliant idea: instead of reviewing just one restaurant, you should review five. Five? Are you shitting me? You just pulled that number out of your ass! Do you know how much it costs to eat at five restaurants, especially when the free bus service is not running over spring break? With this in mind, I promptly found a bit of a loophole in their idea: they don’t specify sit down restaurants per se, just restaurants.
Flipping frantically through my dictionary, I found the definition of the word “restaurant”. It reads, “an establishment where meals are served to customers.” By this logic, food carts may technically be considered “restaurants”. Since the food cart culture in Portland is so important, my editors loved the idea. I decided to specialize and find the best shawarma/middle eastern food carts in Portland. My next challenge was figuring out how to do this without spending money for the bus.
On the Thursday before break, I promptly slept through my morning class, rolled out of bed at 11 (just as it was ending), and hauled myself out to the bus to go downtown for a shawarma breakfeast/brunch/lunch/afternoon snack. My plan had originally been to go to class and study for the midterm I would be taking the next day, but that agenda was thrown out very quickly. As the bus rolled into town, I flipped through my meticulously planned itinerary. I would hit four shawarma places on Thursday afternoon, and the final one on Friday night for dinner.
My first shawarma stop was a place called Sabria’s on 5th and Oak. We don’t need to talk much about this stop: it was only noon and she was out of lamb, which I believe to be a sin against shawarma. She did, however, have chicken, so I decided to try it anyway. It was only $5, so I figured it was worth a go. Sadly, the shawarma was unremarkable. The chicken was juicy and perfectly cooked, but other than that, the shawarma was average. Yeah, it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t that good either. I got what I paid for.
After a disappointing first round, I trudged up to the 10th and Alder set of food carts, looking for Ali Baba’s Turkish Kitchen. Unfortunately, this silly named food cart was nowhere to be seen. I improvised and went to another shawarma cart nearby, Sheish Kabob Grill. This was the real start of my day of shawarma. They cooked lots of tiny strips of lamb to perfection, and added plenty of fresh lettuce and tomato. I could’ve done with a bit more onion and tatziki, but it was nice to have a very basic shawarma, focusing mainly on the flavor and textural differences of lamb, lettuce, tomato, and pita, with everything else serving as an accent. At $8.50, it was more expensive than I would have liked. That being said, they did give me a lot of lamb. With this shawarma in my hands, I walked off to the next stop.
Fortunately, Sultan’s Kitchen is on 4th and Hall, near PSU, so I could walk off the first two shawarmas as I went for my third. I was particularly excited to learn that I would be getting a doner here, not a shawarma, and it would only be $6. A doner is like a cross between a gyro and a burrito; It’s a Turkish street food I came to love during my time in Istanbul. I had high hopes biting into this doner, and it did not disappoint. Coating the exceptionally thin pita was a thick layer of spicy sundried tomato sauce, very typical in Turkish cuisine. The lamb pieces were nice and thick; they encapsulated everything good lamb should be. To compliment was some lettuce, onion, tomato, parsley, and a nice thick tatziki. The chef even poured more on the top of the doner after he had toasted it under a panini press. All the ratios of ingredients were spot on, and they melded together seamlessly to make a wonderful doner. This doner took me right back to Istanbul.
Feeling generally content with food, my life, and the whole world, I meandered my way back north to El Masry Egyptian on 3rd and Washington. This place is a unique food cart, with a small seating area and a roof, which is especially appreciated. The gyros they do are gigantic. Seriously, they resemble a rolled up Sunday newspaper. I got the standard, a lamb gyro, which is essentially the same as a shawarma. The nice thing about this gyro was there were olives in it! I love olives, and to have them with lamb in any Middle Eastern cuisine just feels right for me. The veggies were also very fresh and crisp. Other than that, it was a fairly standard gyro. The tatziki was actually a bit less garlicky than I would prefer, but for $7, this giant gyro is a good deal if you want a lot of lamby goodness.
My fifth food cart stop was completed the next day, right after I had finished taking the midterm that I didn’t study for because I was eating shawarma. It went very well, actually. Maybe this could be a new development in gastronomic science: shawarma helps you to prepare for midterms. I’ll be waiting by my phone for the results. Meanwhile, I should probably stop rambling and tell you about my last shawarma stop.
(This is currently my desktop picture).
I’ve actually been to Adam’s a few times before. It sits just a block away from Voodoo Donuts on 3rd and Ash. I got my usual: a lamb shawarma with everything. At $9, it was my most pricey shawarma, but it was well worth it. A lamb shawarma with everything includes all the standard fare: lamb, tomato, lettuce, tatziki, hot sauce, pita, etc., but Adam’s puts in hummus, pickles, and french fries as well. Let me take a brief detour here, because french fries in shawarma are important to discuss. In the Middle East, french fries are amazingly popular for completely unknown reasons. Most doner shops in Turkey put their cooked fries under the spit of lamb to soak up the lamb juices that drip down. They are served in, on, or with virtually everything no matter where you go. To have a shawarma with french fries in it is a sign of true authenticity. And besides that, it’s just delicious! Adam’s hummus is wonderful too, and I am always treated with a little extra for my continued patronage. The garlic sauce is so beautiful: it’s thick, creamy, and very garlicky, with a perfect amount (a lot) incorporated into the shawarma. It mixes a bit with the hot sauce and the hummus to create a really interesting concoction at the bottom of your shawarma. The veggies are fresh, the pita is warm, the lamb is served in big chunks: everything about this shawarma is wonderful. It’s a vibrant mix of everything I know and love about Middle Eastern cuisine. I go to Adam’s every time my friends are off buying their pathetic looking maple bacon donuts at Voodoo. The looks on their faces when I return with a gigantic, mind-bendingly delicious shawarma is priceless. Sometimes, they’ll want to trade bites of donut for bites of shawarma. I’m usually a reasonable man, but I get downright protective when it comes to Adam’s shawarmas. ”Fuck off!” I’ll proudly say, “Get your own shawarma!” I highly recommend, if you even have a vague interest in shawarmas and only a few minutes in Downtown, that you go get a shawarma from Adam’s. You will be pleasantly fulfilled.
Thus ends my two days of binge eating shawarmas in downtown Portland. It was fun, I endured obscene amounts of bloatedness from eating four shawarmas in one afternoon on Thursday, and I have learned a lot about the shawarma scene in Portland. That said, I don’t think I’ve eaten this much in weeks. It took me two days to work up the courage to roll my fat ass out of bed to write this article. But in the end, it was the call of the shawarma that led me out of my food induced stupor and into the light of culinary nirvana.
I’m usually not that big on fundraisers, but when I saw that there was a fundraiser with Iraqi food, I stopped reading and hopped on Google maps to see where I needed to go. If I had read a little bit more, I would realize that it was all the way in North Portland, in the not so nice area. ”Damn,” I thought, “how am I going to get up there?” Fortunately, there’s this wonderful thing called public transportation that actually works in Portland.
Being the respectable and thorough journalist that I am, I did a bit of last minute research on my phone just before I got to the event. I found out that it was hosted by Better Life USA, a non-profit organization based in Portland that does work with Middle Eastern and African immigrants to help them acclimatize to living in America. They have a sister organization in Egypt that does, more or less, the same thing. I stalled outside the door for a few minutes to look up some Arabic phrases, should I need them, as well as to better acquaint myself with what sort of food I would be eating. None of the articles I found were much help in deciphering what made Iraqi food any different from any other Middle Eastern food, and it was cold outside, so I bravely decided to walk in without knowing anything about the food I was about to eat. Fortunately, it’s somewhat excusable for a journalist to not know anything and have to ask other people; it’s kindof the entire point of journalism.
After sitting down at a table, I was immediately struck by the diversity of the people surrounding me. There were young college aged kids, some older, more frumpy adults, some aging hippies, a few business men, and even some little kids. This was a veritable melting pot of every walk of life from Portland culture. With an admission price of only $10 and a promise of Iraqi food, I’m surprised more people didn’t show up, but they still had a staggering 160 people. I sized up the situation and found the most promising people to interview: Lisa Kelly, the executive director of Better Life USA, and Saad al Ameri, a very nice Iraqi chef who gave me more chicken biriani than he was giving to everyone else. But before my interviews, I wanted to be thorough and have something to eat.
The food was late arriving, and the line was amazingly long. As with most other catered fundraisers, it was buffet style, and it wasn’t the best organized. I thought, “I might as well wait for the line to die down and read the pamphlets about Better Life USA that were so generously laid out on the tables for the people who, like me, came with only a vague idea of what was being accomplished.” This was quite naive of me, as the line didn’t die down. At least I was more informed.
Finally, I made it through the line and sat down with my set of plastic cutlery and my paper plate heaped with everything I could get my hands on. I will just give a very quick rundown of my dinner. There were no falafels left, but there was a bit of tatziki sauce, which was quite watery and bland, with almost no garlic and none of the usual sour yogurt taste I’m used to. The Chicken Biriani was a wonderful mix of aromatic spices with rice, chicken, and sweet pieces of fruit. This was something completely different, and I loved it. The eggplant stew was hearty and filling, holding all of its integrity with powerful flavors. The kebab was alright: nice and lamby, but too cold to taste if there was spice of not. The grilled chicken was equally disappointing, being quite dry and having the spice just sitting in clumps on top of it. The real low point was the boring white bean stew with rice. It was bland and cold, and that’s about all there was to it. I was uplifted by the kibi though, being a very dark, meaty version of the dish with deep spices and a very satisfying texture. The beet salad was a bit of a revelation in terms of how fresh and delicious vegetables can be. It was all served with tough Pita, which was a bit disappointing as well. But fortunately, the baklava was some of the best I’ve ever had, and that’s saying a lot. I’ve been to Turkey and had some really amazing baklava, but this baklava was divine. It had just the right amount of filling, a very pleasing flaky outside, and it was drizzled with a perfect mixture of fresh honey and rose water. I would do so many things for just one more piece of that baklava.
After eating, I was interested in finding out what it was that made Iraqi food different, so I talked to Saad al Ameri, the man who seemed to favor me in the buffet line. He didn’t speak much English, so we found a translator. I found out that he was a former officer in the Iraqi military who went into the restaurant business with a few of his friends in 2003. He was happy to tell me all about Iraqi food. ”The difference is in the spices; that is what makes Iraqi food special,” he told me. Saad explained that Iraq has a unique geography that allows for extensive trade with India and the orient, and that most of the spices used in Iraqi food are more Indian in origin than in other Middle Eastern cuisine, such as cardamom, cloves, tamarind, and turmeric. Some methods of cooking are also more Indian in nature. Iraq also is able to offer its people more diversity in ingredients than other Middle Eastern countries, being on the Persian gulf and having plenty of fertile land from the cradle of the Tigris and Euphrates. There’s more fish in Iraqi cuisine than in other Middle Eastern cuisines, for example. But Iraq is quite similar to other Middle Eastern countries in that the people are very proud of their food. Their culture is immersed in their food, as one would expect, being one of the oldest cultures on the earth. Saad was enlightening to talk to, and even though he was speaking in Arabic, I could tell that he was excited about Iraqi food.
Lisa shed some light on their operation itself: Better Life USA is simply organizing a few food carts to be owned by the Iraqis. Originally, Better Life USA would be owning the food carts and doing all of the logistics, but they decided later in the process that having the Iraqis own the food carts would be a better option. ”Vocational dignity helps a successful transition,” Lisa said. ”There’s something in the simple ownership of the cart that makes for a good transition.” Better Life USA is focused on making sure the Iraqi refugees are transitioned well for the long run, and they have a commitment to their goal that I have not seen in other organizations like Better Life USA. Their idea is to integrate the Iraqi refugees while making them a vital part of society. Having them own food carts seems like a wonderful way to do this.
Lisa is definitely passionate about her job, and it comes through. When I told her she gave very good quotes, she was surprised and told me that she’s never been much of an eloquent person. I’ve been thinking about what she said for about a week now. Eloquence, quite frankly, is overrated; someone who is eloquent about everything gets boring. Lisa is passionate, and its her passion that comes through and makes her more able to articulate what she wants to say; she really cares about it. The same can be said of Saad, the man who I interviewed earlier. Just the look on his face expressed a deep care for his work and his people.
This event has been a real eye opener for me. I learned about Iraqi cuisine and got to eat some wonderful food, yes, but what really did it was seeing the passion and compassion with which everyone operated. I was surrounded by people who cared about food and each other, and they were truly devoted to that. It’s something that hasn’t happened to me very often, and I doubt it will ever hit quite like it did again. I realized how powerful food was that night, to bring people together over a meal. Saad told me an Arabic proverb: if two people cook from the same recipe, they will never cook the same exact dish because of the passion of the chef. I really got a feeling of that during the fundraiser. Lisa put it expertly: “By welcoming the cuisine of people, we are welcoming the people themselves.” I couldn’t agree more. That night, I really loved my job.
Although I was fed at the fundraiser, I was only able to get a little bit of food before they started to run out. As I walked back to the bus stop in the rain, I couldn’t help but stop at a shawarma food cart for a late night fix of lamb shawarma. After that first bite of utter bliss, I pondered what I had been through and how heart warming my night had been. Treasure this moment readers, for this is one of the few times I will leave my cynicism aside and pull my head out of my ass. I knew at that moment that I loved the food world, that it is where I belong. The experience of sharing food is something I will always find exhilarating, and especially when it is done amongst people who really care about the food and each other. Food is, in a way, an expression of love and acceptance towards each other. The simple act of sharing food with others is one that I will never grow bored of.