(This one’s for you, Eric 😉 )
My friend Barbara and I had dinner at Azar’s tonight, our favorite Middle Eastern restaurant with the attached market. Need some fabulous feta? Terrific tabouli? The best baklava? This is the place to find them.
I had a kefte wrap – a hotdog-shaped piece of hamburger mixed with spices, cooked, and wrapped in a pita with pickles, hummus, tomato, and Azar’s famous Mama Lina Sauce. I also ordered an appetizer of stuffed grape leaves, to bring home to Dan for his dinner, along with half of my sandwich (they’re huge!). Barbara had seafood kebab, beautifully grilled and served with saffron rice. Great meal. We skipped the baklava, since I, at least, overindulged a bit during our vacation to Michigan last week.
Eating there reminds me of my trip to Turkey in 2001, with my mom, aunt, uncle, and two couples who are friends of theirs. Our tour guide in Istanbul said that, because the Ottoman Empire covered practically all of the Middle East and parts of Europe and Africa, for hundreds of years, most modern-day countries in those areas claim lots of the same recipes, such as hummus and tabouli, as their own. In fact, the recipes came from the Sultan‘s kitchen and were spread by the Ottoman army throughout its territory. For example, stuffed grape leaves in southern Europe became stuffed cabbage.