Labneh and generosity in the Middle East
- November 20, 2009 2:52 PM |
- By Amber Hildebrandt
Containers of olives at a souk in Aqaba, Jordan. They'll likely end up part of someone's mezze. (Amber Hildebrandt/CBC)
Though travel can focus on many things - history, natural wonders, relaxation - my trips inevitably are dominated by food. And happily so.
On a recent trip to Lebanon and Jordan, I did my usual culinary-style touring around the two countries - taking a cooking class, wandering in souks, browsing through grocery stores and gorging on local specialties.
Much like Spanish tapas, mezze involves ordering a selection of appetizers plus a main course meat dish for all to share. It's the perfect mode of eating for a foodie, and it kept me satiated with my daily fill of hummus.
But perhaps the most pleasant surprise of travelling in the Middle East was the sheer generosity I encountered. I received free food samples at nearly every turn:
- After asking a baker about buying two honey-soaked doughnut holes, he gave me half a bag full.
- When asking about restaurant specialties, a waiter in Aqaba, Jordan, brought me a free plate of moutabel.
- In response to a question about what "white coffee" was, a Beirut restaurant worker gave me a sample. (Turns out it's not coffee related at all, but orange-blossom flavoured hot water.)
Tell me about your favourite discoveries abroad.
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