Can you spot the floating glass? :)
I had the chance to organize a few more of my pictures from our Middle East vacation and I wanted to share some random food pictures with you. It truly is a feast for the eyes.
Hospitality and generosity play a huge role in Middle Eastern culture. When guests come over they are served the best of everything in an endless process of food and drink. Nuts are almost always part of a visit, since they’re something to snack on and keep your hands busy while talking.
They have so many different varieties of nuts…some roasted, some salted, some coated, some with unusual flavorings, some made from things you would never expect to get a nut from (like watermelon seeds, which are roasted and eaten the same way that pumpkin seeds are…except they’re much harder to get out :) ). Nuts can vary a great deal in quality and price, and I’ve heard it said that a person’s generosity is demonstrated in the type of nuts he serves his guests.
(Above) Roasted Watermelon Seeds
(Above) Frying Falafel, Washing Mint, & Falafel Fixings…in Damascus, falafel sandwiches are one of the best meals on the go. Fresh mint and pomegranate molasses are my two favorite secret ingredients.
Just about any kind of veggie is pickled and can be added to sandwiches or mazza platters, which are platters full of small plates of different dishes. Mazza platters are typically served for breakfast and/or dinner (the smaller meals), since lunch is the largest meal of the day.
Of course, the best is for last –Middle Eastern sweets! Each is a masterpiece in and of itself.
(Above) Atayef, which I first had when my sister-in-law made it a few years ago during Ramadan, is my favorite Middle Eastern sweet. It is pancake-like dough that is filled with either cheese (my favorite!), thick cream, or walnuts, then deep fried and soaked in orange blossom-scented sugar syrup. Truly blissful.
(Above) Syrian Harissa, which is a lovely cake made from semolina flour and occasionally coconut, is sweetened with sugar syrup. (You’ll also see this cake called Basbousa or Namoura, depending on where you are or who you’re talking to.)
(Above) Warbat bil Ashta