February 17, 2009

CF09 – Marhaba, Habibi!

CF09 – Marhaba, Habibi!

Marhaba, habibi! “Hello, dear” in Arabic.

In episode 9 we recap our experience at the Lebanese convention, including the Maronite liturgy we attended on Sunday. We respond to feedback about Lebanese food and culture, and I share with you my falafel fiasco!

We also have a special treat on the menu: kibbeh nayeh. Kibbeh nayeh is a common dish in Lebanon. It may not sound appealing, at first, to our North American ears, but it is delicious! Yes, it is raw lamb. But there is just something about it. Hence, the song at the convention. I think it is one of those things that is distinctly Lebanese and lends a sense of connection for those Lebanese living outside the homeland.

There is a great blog post about kibbeh nayeh from a blogger living in Lebanon. Check out the post here.

I just want to make one note about the Maronite liturgy we attended on Sunday of the convention weekend. It was a sacred experience. There is such a sense of Mystery in the liturgies of the Eastern Churches. The focus is totally on the mercy of God… on begging God’s mercy. And there is plenty of incense and chanting. Even though we were in a hotel ballroom celebrating the Eucharist, it was a sacred and inspiring event. Beautiful!

Just the other day I had the grand idea of making falafel. Falafel is basically a “paste” made with chick peas, lots of flat-leaf parsley, lots of cilantro, onions, salt, cayenne, and maybe a few more ingredients. Usually you process it in a food processor until it becomes a thick green paste. After shaping the paste into small flattened balls (sort of like thick pancakes), they are fried. They are truly delicious, and we love to order them out.

After looking up a recipe I thought, “Wow, this looks so easy!” I decided to make falafel that night.

It was a fiasco.

I started cooking too late in the evening… and everything takes longer than you think. At first I thought my paste was too thick, so I added just a bit of water. However, the onions ended up providing all the water I needed. So my paste was not “paste-y” enough. I added more beans.

Anyway, the directions called for the paste to be refrigerated for at least 30 minutes. But, guess what. It was already late and I did not want to wait. In retrospect… I should have.

Lastly, I am terrible at frying! I mean, I can pan fry something. But, really frying… I usually leave that to the professionals. Not to mention the fact that frying makes a total (stinky) mess of the kitchen.

Add all of this together and you can see why I ended up with a falafel fiasco!

However, I tried again the next night with the leftover paste (which had been refrigerated over night!) and they turned out so much better. Goes to show you that directions are important.

The top photo is of our 9 year old son “dancing the night away” with his “girlfriends” at the Lebanese convention.

Finally, here is a photo of the cake that was served Saturday night at the convention. It was just plain indescribable:
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