Ramblings of a Hungry Man
I feel the weight of the passing years in Ramadan. This is a slow moving month with often repetitive, unchanging and ageless rituals. Days drag forever, nuisances magnified, children coming of age, hurdles crossed, pledges honored, fluid images projected on the mind’s inner walls, memories forever embossed.
Fares and I went fishing together for the first time. I lent him my hand, showed him the ropes then let him be. He hooked his maiden fish, a giant Smanniseh with vicious spikes protruding out of its back. A gargantuan whale, thrashing and leaping, pulling viciously at the line, it must’ve measured more than 5 cm in length. He beamed with joy, yelling and shouting: “Baba, Baba”. I grinned with pride, seeing him morphing into a handsome young man right in front of my eyes.
I come home in the afternoon and strip for an empty room. A mélange of whiffs and scents rafts through the air coming from down the hall. Om Fares doesn’t appreciate my loitering walkthroughs of her kitchen so I delay the inevitable harmless joust. To my bedroom balcony I head instead and kneel down by my peppers. I caress the green leaves and the colorful budding cayennes, most certain that they have feelings for me as well. "I love you little clitori. I’m going to take such good care of you, oil you and pamper you then eat you up with Labneh and mint", I hiss like a mad man.
Since I’m rarely leaving home after sunset I exercise by walking to work and back. Strolling by the park in the afternoon, with scrumptious thoughts of soup, casseroles and main courses floating through my head instead of striking images of brunette, blond and redhead beauties I make a detour toward the public bakery (Firn Al-Dawleh) as we call it in Tartous. With all the shortcomings of this and previous governments I have to admit to one thing only. They make the best Pita Bread in the world right here and it’s still selling for SP15 ($0.30) per 1 kg Rabta (bag). I buy 4 of them and return home. Om Fares thinks I’m a crazy glutton. I feast on the hot bread’s aroma while I take each loaf and tenderly separate it along its seam line into two halves.
Late at night, I ask Om Faresabout her least favorable topic for this time. What about I cook a rabbit stew tomorrow? I innocently ask. "I’ll cook whatever you want just stay out of my kitchen please". I tell her about my phone conversation with Abu Ibrahim earlier in the morning. I was at work and needed to talk food with someone. So I called, appreciating him for the great chef and the superb epicure he is. He’s preparing Scottish Eggs for the Iftar (Ramadan Dinner). I wondered if it goes well with a rabbit stew. He assured me that his Scottish Eggs and my rabbit stew would make for a glorious feast befit for kings and queens. Om Fares ended up cooking both with lusciously haunting results.
My next post is likely to come during or after Eid Al-Fitr. So I might as well wish you all here and now a very Happy Eid. Since I haven’t posted any recipe during the month, I wrap up with a double header, both of which, I assure you, are most extraordinary and mouth-watering.
1 large or 2 small cut rabbits + 1 bottle of vinegar + 1 carrot + 1 onion + cardamom + 2 cinnamon sticks + 1 cube chicken broth
1 kg cut fried potatoes
½ kg small cut mushrooms
2 sliced onions
4 pre-boiled carrots
3 tablespoons Quaker oatmeal
(additional spices per preference)
-Marinate cut rabbit overnight in vinegar and place in fridge.
-Place in pressure cooker along with 1 carrot, 1 onion, some cardamom, 2 cinnamon sticks and 1 cube chicken broth. Cover in water completely and keep on medium low for 1 hour after the whistle blows.
-Remove 2 cups of water and use to cook rice on the side.
- Debone the rabbit and cook over low heat with the fried potatoes, mushrooms, sliced onions and carrots for 30 minutes. Add Quaker oatmeal and keep for 5 more minutes.
-Serve with rice on the side.
6 boiled eggs
1 raw egg
700 grams tender ground veal
1peeled clove of garlic
½ cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons flour
Spices per preference
Boiled vegetables per preference (enough to go complement the dish)
-In a blender mix the meat, the raw egg, onion, garlic, floor, bread crumbs and spices until consistent.
-Divide mix into 6 equal parts and spread then roll around the boiled eggs (shell removed of course).
-Fry in vegetable oil until light brown.
-Place in oven with boiled vegetables. Top with 1 ½ cup of water and 1 cube chicken broth.
-Cover with aluminum foil and cook for 30 minutes.
-Serve and enjoy.