One of the most popular and iconic restaurants in all of Aleppo was Abu Abdo’s— a tiny fava bean parlor tucked away in the city’s historic Jdaydeh district. There was only one item on the menu: ful (fava beans). Fava beans for breakfast is to Arabs what steak and eggs is to Americana. It’s the beloved breakfast of champions. One bowl of fava beans packs enough fuel to keep you going all day.
Breakfast across the Levant typically involves a modest spread of strained yogurt or labneh (لبنة), olive oil alongside some za’tar (زيت و زعتر), perhaps a chunk of cheese (جبنة), an assortment of savory pastries or mu’ajannat (معجّنات), a few olives (زيتون), and some hardboiled eggs (بيض مسلوق). On weekends or special occasions, families will prepare more involved dishes like fūl (فول), stewed fava beans; or zlabiye (زلابية) thin fried pastry; or mamouniyeh (مامونية), a sweet semolina porridge topped with salty strands of Armenian string cheese.
Growing up, weekend breakfasts meant frying aajeh in the kitchen. Aajeh is a delicious parsley-rich omelette popular across the Middle East. Unlike the classic French omelette, parsley is the star of the show; the eggs are there to hold everything together. Aajeh are fried, simple, and delicious. I love aajeh so much, I
stole convinced my mom to give me her traditional aajeh pan from Aleppo. The pan has small dimples/craters that allow you to make individual aajeh fritters. As far as I’m aware, no other city in Syria (or the Middle East for that matter) prepares aajeh this way. Most recipes call for frying the aajeh as a large disk in a non-stick skillet.
My latest, favorite granola
Thank you for all the wonderful emails and congratulatory comments on my Fulbright post. I have a feeling this is going to be an incredible culinary journey that I hope we can take together — you and me, traveling through Syria. It’s going to be awesome. Just be sure to bring a hearty appetite (and definitely a pair of loose-fitted pants).
Mo’ Butta’ Mo’ Betta’
Today I’m going to blog about brioche. It’s been long overdue, let me explain why.
It all started a few weeks ago when I received an email from the Culinary Institute of America. The Culinary Institute of America. I had to read the message a few times so the words could sink in. Dean Sciacca, a dean at the culinary school and reader of my blog, was inviting me to give a talk on storytelling and culinary tradition at their Hyde Park campus in New York. I had never done any public speaking before; not outside of school at least. I was excited, nervous, curious, honored — all at the same time. I wrote back with the most enthusiastic yes I could possibly muster in an email, all while keeping my cool (I think).
Grandmas are the BEST!
A few days ago, my cousin sent me photos from back in the day that I didn’t even know existed. They were of my family’s summer getaways in Venezuela, where we used to live before moving to the good ol’ US of A. I spent hours looking through the photos – conjuring up memories I had stored away a long time ago. Granted, a lot of them were of me in speedos in Venezuela’s many beaches; so I’ll skip through those and share with you this one: