When I was a child, I loved listening to elderly people talking about their lives, experiences, comparing their past with the actual present. To me it was a lively talking book – perhaps this is how the audio books started. I never got bored because I was learning from them through their stories. They were giving me an opportunity to see the world from another time, another perspective. That was better than any library in the world!
Things never changed as I grew up to become an adult. Meeting new people with different backgrounds was always interesting. Through the places I lived, I’ve met so many captivating individuals from all around the world who shared a part of themselves. By talking about their lifestyles, customs and so on, one common thing they all had was to make sure I tasted their food. I haven’t met anyone who was not eager to share the dishes they grow up with me. This is when I realized that food was one of the most important factors in anyone’s lives.
While living in Toronto, I met a man who was originally from Lebanon. We became good friends and like the other great people I’ve met throughout my life, he shared with me the food he grew up with. This is how I discovered Levantine cuisine. These flavorful middle-east dishes were deliciously different from any other cuisine. Richard, my Lebanese friend, showed me how to cook many of his favorite recipes. He eventually met a lady and we just drifted apart… that’s life!
Since then I never really made any Levantine dishes until a couple years ago when Club Foody became a part of my life. Before I never really wrote any recipes and realized that I should have. After a few mistakes here and there, I finally was able to make a few dishes learned from Richard with, I’m sure, a slight change to them. Like I mentioned, I never wrote recipes down until recently so as much as I try to stay faithful to the original, recipes can be different.
The one recipe that was extremely easy to remember was Tabbouleh – a vegetarian dish that consists of parsley, bulgur, mint, tomatoes, onions, and seasoned with lemon juice and oil. Not only flavorful but also healthy, this dish is so perfect to serve as a side dish along with any protein. I like to treat it as a salad although I’m not too sure if it is in the culinary world. Salad or not, this is an amazing recipe you will want to keep around…
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1/2 tsp. course Himalayan sea salt
- 1 cup fine bulgur
- 3 cups fresh parsley (flat or curly leaf)
- 1/3 cup fresh mint leaves
- 4 large green onions, finely chopped
- 3 large Roma tomatoes, seeded and finely diced
- 1/2 large English cucumber, finely diced (optional)
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 6 tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice, or to taste
- 8 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, or to taste
- 1 pinch ground Himalayan sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste