An American in a Lebanese Kitchen
Twenty-one weeks of experiments in the kitchen with middle eastern cuisine
Let’s get started… I guess I should begin with my story… Many of my friends like to say that I’m not really American, yet, I sound American, I hold an American passport, I do get a little over excited when I hear an American accent, and I come from a very American family.
My father was raised on a dairy farm in Vermont, USA selling milk to local markets and tapping syrup from maple trees. Far from affluent, he grew up in a humble upbringing with a brother and sister, the most adorable and loving father and an extremely intelligent mother.
My mother on the other end of the scale grew up between Montclair, New Jersey and Greenwich, CT, has three sisters, another exceptional man for a father, a mother I called GRANDMAMA, a few nannies and a cook named Robert. They are a family soap opera dysfunction that would make the Kardashians look like the Brady Bunch, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
These two very distinctive yet classic American families merged, genes mixed and along came me…..
This is where it all gets a little confusing….
I was born in Zurich, Switzerland, but moved when I was six months old to Brussels, Belgium where my brother joined me in the crazy world of ours. Not long after that we packed up our Pssat station wagon and drove to Paris, France. This is where I spent almost the longest stint of my overseas adventures. Six years later, we all yet again got transferred and began our Asian leg of our journey. Hong Kong and then Tokyo, Japan where I graduated High School. I went on to art school in San Francisco, CA, and after that had short stays in the London, Istanbul, Michigan, USA and a few back and forths to Dubai, UAE. Thirty one years circled back later I am now in Zurich, Switzerland with an unknown mind of where is next.
Now you have my other sometimes better half; half Lebanese, half German. With a huge family that sticks together through every minor and major affair in life, he grew up overseas, like me, but his roots, in my opinion, belong in Beirut, Lebanon. His Dad is one of five other siblings (all women) whom most are married with their own lot of kids plus their grandkids so you can imagine what the dining table looks like at a meal. I have to admit, I was a little overwhelmed when I first met the family, but my german mother in law took my hand and eased me into the extravagant feasts that I have begun to love. It’s because of them and others that I have met along this middle eastern adventure that I have been inspired to start this quest and challenge. After all I am an American in a very large and eclectic Lebanese Kitchen.
I am a creative and anything that entails concocting something from scratch gets me all pumped up. I figured with such contrasting families and cuisines, this was at least headed for something interesting. This is my experiment in the kitchen (or should I say multiple kitchens) by reading different middle eastern cookbooks, gathering secret family recipes, and inviting friends to contribute while adding a bit of an American twist to it all. I hope this inspires readers to treat their taste buds to something a little different. SAHTEIN! (Bon Appètit!)