Skip to main content

Tastes of Home


While I come from a long line of German farmers who put some of the best meat and potato concoctions on the table (and breads!), there's another set of flavors and foods that tell me I'm home. From the first time I tasted these flavors I think I fell in love.

One step in the door and we could have closed our eyes and just followed the smell of garlic, lemon, onion, and spices up the stairs to a bustling kitchen. Sybil and Maan gave us a hearty welcome as we entered the swirl. Maan never missed a beat as he prepared the last skewers of lamb for the grill merrily smoking outside, and the tabouli looked like summer in a bowl - a vibrant mix of green parsley, onion and mint with sparks of red tomato, garlic, and bulgur.

A friend worked away on the kibbeh nyee (pronounced kib-bay nigh-ay) - raw ground lamb mixed with bulgur and a family recipe of assorted spices - shaping the meat, pouring on the olive oil and setting mint leaves around the plate for a tasty garnish. Each family has their own mix of spices, which usually include cumin and cloves. Best eaten wrapped in a bit of pita with a slice of raw onion this is one of the taste sensations I adore.

Sybil guided us to cold beers and a big bowl of hummous decked out with olive oil and bright parsley leaves waiting next to the kalamatta olives, sliced fresh vegetables, and soft pita bread. Surrounded by these friends, tastes, and sounds was simply joy.

Sybil's Hummous*
2 15 oz. cans of chick peas (drain about half the liquid and save the extra)
2 large cloves of garlic (more if you like. Cut out the centers unless super fresh.)
3/4 teaspoons salt
2-3 tablespoons tahini
1/3 cup (or a bit more) lemon juice (about the juice of one lemon)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (remove the large stems before chopping)
2 tablespoons olive oil

Place the first five ingredients in a food processor or blender until fairly smooth. Sybil likes hers with some texture still in it.) Use excess liquid from the chickpeas as necessary without making it too soupy or too thick. (You should be able to scoop it up with pita without it dripping.) Place in shallow serving bowl. Cover with olive oil and sprinkle with parsley. Serve with pita bread or crackers, but take a photo of it immediately. You won't get another chance.
*Note: Recipe perfected in mid-1980's, and still in use as of February, 2010. Vary amounts to suit your taste, but this is a good starting point by all accounts.

Comments

Unknown said…
Tabuli or however you want to spell it, is one of the few dishes Maan makes that does not have garlic.
What?!? I have distinct memories of mashing garlic in the bottom of the bowl with salt. Isn't there even a little?

Popular posts from this blog

Finding Heirloom Seeds in Japan

Drying pods of heirloom Hutterite Soup Beans. Since moving to Japan eight years ago, one of my greatest challenges as a farmer-gardener has been to find heirloom or open-pollinated seeds. The majority of seeds available are not GMO (genetically modified organisms) as Japan, at this point, doesn't accept this material. Most seeds, though, are nearly all F1 varieties. Heirloom and F1 Varieties In plant breeding, F1 is the name given to the first generation of a cross between two true breeding parents. For example, if I decide to cross an Amish Paste Tomato with another heirloom variety tomato such as Emmy, in hopes of getting a gold paste tomato, the resulting generation of fruit is F1. In order to get that tomato of my culinary dreams, I'll need to choose members of that first generation that are headed in a direction I like - early ripening, medium-sized fruit, good taste - and save their seeds. I'll plant them and repeat the process again and again over time unti

Satoimo: One of Japan's Favorite Slimy Things

Satoimo in all their hairy glory. This post first appeared in slightly different form on Garden to Table as part of the 2012  Blogathon . The website has since moved on to the ether, but the post is still a good one. After all, people here are still eating satoimo on a daily basis, and many others are just seeing these little potato-like objects for the first time. Enjoy! Satoimo is one of Japan's odder vegetables. Under it's rough, slightly furry skin is white flesh that is a little bit slimy even raw, and with a gentle nutty flavor.* Baked, grilled, steamed with dashi, or deep-fried satoimo stands well on its own or paired up with other vegetables and meats in a wide variety of soups and stews . (The leaves are also edible.) Satoimo stores well, and like any root crop worth the effort, stocks are just running low on this household favorite as the farmers in my area of Tokyo get ready to put a new crop in the ground in May. I cannot say I was a fan of this l

Goma Ai Shingiku - Sesame and Chrysanthemum Greens

Last week I had the pleasure of helping some friends work in their parents garden not too far away. Tucked behind the house, the garden sits on a former house lot. When it came up for sale about five years ago, my friend's father jumped at the chance. Open land in Tokyo can be hard to find and expensive, but for a retired professional looking for a little spot to till in the city it was an opportunity to good to pass up. Now, it is a garden to envy. As we came through the gate rose, lily, and peony blooms greeted us with great shouts of color while rows of vegetables stood tidily at attention on the sunny center stage. Small fruit trees along with one of the biggest sansho trees I've seen yet stood quietly here and there. Near waist-high sweet corn, bushy young potato plants, cherry tomatoes, eggplants, and beans were preparing their summer fruits, while a handful of still quite luscious looking winter vegetables like komatsuna, mizuna, and kabu held one last ro