Showing posts from August, 2009

When I Need You

In the summer of 1977 shortly after my National Bacalaureat exam I attended my first dancing party in Tartous. These were extremely rare events in my little town by the sea back then. Boys and girls went to single-sex schools like the rest of Syria with the exception of a handful of private ones in Damascus and Aleppo perhaps. Not many years later that had come to change and by the early 80's of the 20th century Tartous implemented co-ed in all of its public schools and remains today the only Governorate in the country without any single-sex learning institution. We've sure moved way ahead of the pack and we're proud of our mindset here on the coast. In fact, despite the relentless waves of marauding Wahabi Islamists pouring over our shores, we Tartoussis, in our majority, stand in defiance to the dull and lifeless coveys desaturating the kaleidoscopic social fabric of Syria not through confrontation but rather by clinging to our traditional Mediterranean way of life. We

Jijeh Mehshieh (Stuffed Chicken a la Tortosa)

This post is dedicated to Katia (I promise you a more romantic one, loool) I have settled adequately into my Ramadan routine. It's really simple come to think of it, minimum talk and/or contact with the rest of the human race, that's all I ask for. At work, I hate talking on the phone or having to hear office chitchat. You know I'd rather be left alone. I don't like smiling or being agreeable. Well I pretty much hate everything in the morning. Later on in the day, I can close the door, be by myself and relieve the rest of the world of my grumpiness. You got the idea didn't you? I'm not much fun in Ramadan so just …. The phone rang for the hundredth time. Ohhh, I'm really mad now... "HELLO." It was my son, “Hi dad, I have a good recipe for your blog.” “What is it Fares?” I asked, restraining myself from being too opprobrious. He loitered with his words, “Mum is stuffing a chicken and I'm helping out. Do you want me to take pictures?”


It is customary in Syria to have a white main dish on the first Iftar table of Ramadan. This might be true of other neighboring countries but I cannot claim what I do not know. White for many cultures is considered as a good and auspicious color and as thus has no religious significance whatsoever. Of course in Levantine Cuisine a white meal could only mean that a dish is prepared and cooked in Yogurt Sauce. As far back as I can remember we always had Shakrieh on Ramadan 1st. It' is one of my all-time favorite dishes especially since I'm biased anyway to anything cooked in yogurt. Shakrieh is a year round Syrian recipe and is not unique to Ramadan. Here it is, in very simple steps, Shakrieh in its most basic form, the Tartoussi way. Ingredients: 1 kg lamb chunks (Mozat) 3 large onions cut in rings 6 to 8 cups plain yogurt 1 tablespoon cornstarch 1 egg 1 teaspoon Salt 2 sticks Cinnamon 1 tablespoon Vegetable oil Water 1 cup of Rice or Burghul (cooked the usual

Ramadan Karim

It will be extremely difficult for those who judge a book by its cover to understand my relationship with Ramadan. For interested readers they can always find more about "Ramadan according to a tartoussi" here and specifically here . I have already posted 14 times about it so obviously it must carry certain significance to me. Perhaps most interesting in our unique relationship is that first, I feel the passage of time with the advent of this synodic (lunar) month and second, I have in a way succeeded, on the personal level, to humanize the mystic aura of the experience. My intention is to write recipes and food related posts on my blog for the next 30 days or so. I might, of course, change my mind at any time but it would be a good idea to sit back, enjoy and talk about food. While getting in the mood allow me please to wish each and everyone of you a Ramadan Karim. You know how Christmas is Merry and Easter is Happy! Well Ramadan is Generous (Karim). I hope we work


We grow and change. Only the dead-inside and morons don't modify their paths on a journey we had never chosen to take. I am amazed by how much I've altered my perception of my environment and myself since I started sharing my trivial and significant thoughts through writing on an open blog. The last three years have been more pivotal, from an intellectual point of view, than the concerted outcome of almost three decades of adulthood. I have come to terms with the sentient being within and finally accepted matters and issues I struggled to resolve for the greatest part of my past. I was shy, timid and scared to release myself from the claws of indoctrinated teachings, imprinted mores and unchallenged truths. My liberation at last has been my most memorable and satisfying achievement. In February of this year I came to the realization that I've been consuming my life for the wrong reasons. Consuming, not living, since that's what I think I've been doing for the most


August wears me down. It always had. It always will. This year I have been dreading the month long before it knocked on my door. It's not often that I'm home alone. But in a time when everybody needs a little vacation I had no option but to stay behind. Kids, more so than the rest of us, must grow up loving August. There would come the day eventually when the burdens of life will make them change their minds. The telephone cried in the quiet room. -Heard you're alone! -I am. -What do you say we share a drink and be alone together... I picked a shirt in the dark, slipped into a pair of jeans then drove toward the sea. I rolled the windows down and opened the sunroof. No air was coming in. Tartous closed on me as the whole world was too tight around the neck. There was a long line of parked cars on the boulevard as I brought mine into an empty spot. What were they thinking about, these ungodly machines? I stepped down, pushing a button on the key chain and crossed the