Janet Kalush and I are kindred spirits. We are both of Lebanese heritage and are both lovers of Lebanese food. While examining the recipes of Kibbee 'n' Spice and Everything Nice my ample Semitic nose went on a journey of wonderful aromas and tastes from my childhood. I grew up in Toledo, Ohio. My parents were both 100% Lebanese, and my mother was a 100% great Lebanese cook. Although my parents lived on a meager weekly salary earned by my father as a meat cutter and my mother as a seamstress, we ate like royalty.
On Sundays after church, dinner at our home was the highlight of the week. All our relatives - uncles, aunts, cousins, and Sittee (Grandmother) and Jidou (Grandfather), if they were in town - would wind up at our house for drinks, mezza, and an unbelievable feast. The beginning was hummus with tahini, baba ghanoug, lift, olives, gibnee, sliced tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, and lots of syrian (pita) bread.
There were soft drinks for the children and arak and whiskey for the adults. Then came the main course. . . raw kibbee AND baked kibbee, koosa, djaj ma limoon, roz b shiriah, imjaddrah, lubee ah laham, warek eenab, hashwa, yabrak malfoof, sheigh il mihshee, and plenty of salata. . . and of course laban. I'll let you look up the English translations so you'll be overwhelmed at the variety and quantity of our Sunday meal. And we had leftovers even after sending care packages home with some of the relatives.
My, oh my, how I remember that bouquet from my childhood. . . the smell of garlic, olive oil, lemon, mint, zata. . . . And my, oh my, how I remember the sights of those mouth - watering dishes - the sign of the cross in the middle of a plate of raw kibbee, the steam coming from the lubee and rice, and from the grapeleaf and cabbage rolls. . . the story telling and laughter from all who gathered. It was a blessed event on a blessed day.
I hope Janet's cookbook will take you on a similar journey of great memories and delicious food.