Le 7 mars 2016, 09:13 dans Humeurs • 0
Arabic food is one of my favorite things to eat; I love the lively bowls of pickled vegetables, Labna (thick white, creamy cheese) with pools of olive oil spilling out, and whole roasted leg of lamb stuffed with dried figs and pine nuts and roasted for seven hours.
And Kanafeh, warm kataifi (shredded filo) pastries sprinkled with chopped pistachios and doused in orange-blossom honey. When pulled apart, hot cheese oozes out. Meals end with tiny shots of coffee with cardamom seeds clustered at the bottom, their aroma permeating the exotic, murky brew.
I’m with a small group traveling in Israel, learning about the foods and the cultures of this country that is roughly the size of New Jersey. Only sixty or so years-old, Israel is young. But it’s vibrant and brash; people will tell you what they think and expect the same out of you. (Kind of like blogging!) The uncertainty one might have about this country is tempered at the rickety linoleum tables in the back of markets where hand-pulled filo is quickly baked and drizzled with honey for you and at the juice stands which dot the streets near the beaches, pouring fresh, cold juices. But if you do want a taste of controversy, just mention the word “hummus” and you will be told by anyone within earshot where the best place is, and why it’s better than any of the other places you were at.
Here at Haj Kahil, the food is copious and dramatic – tangy cucumbers swimming in vinegar brine, a puffy dome of dough is lifted away, revealing ground lamb with herbs and nuts, cauliflower mashed with tahini (sesame paste), which is meant to be scooped up with breads, all accompanied with house-made pita.
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Each moist handful of dough is pressed and pulled, permeated with za’atar and sesame seeds, then baked for four minutes in a fiery oven until riddled with crisp bubbles. Minutes later, out comes a tambourine-size disk for bread flexible enough to be ripped into, but firm enough to wrap around an unruly salad of spinach and purslane.
I could not get enough of that bread, which they brought out to the table with nearly twenty different dishes for us, everything from miniature pickled eggplants to a salad heaped with fresh herbs and crispy nuts, whose name I can’t remember, but whose taste I will never forget.