You’re at work. It’s a slow Wednesday. Coffee isn’t helping. Your work-friend leans over your desk. ‘How’s it going?’ they ask.
‘Oh, you know. Can’t wait for the weekend.’ ‘If you haven’t got plans, a few of us are going to Warda on Friday night. Have you been there? It’s in Southgate. It’s got a great wine bar, and they do the best Lebanese food – their baba ghanoush is to die for.’ Panic sets in. It sounds like fun, but what is Lebanese food like? Isn’t it all lamb and chickpeas? And just what the heck is baba ghanoush?! Actually, as it shares nearly half of its borders with the Mediterranean Sea and has a history of trade and commerce, it’s not surprising that Lebanese cuisine is something of a melting-pot. Some of its dishes can be traced back to the Roman Empire, and it has elements of cuisine from all around the Mediterranean and Middle East. Key ingredients are fresh herbs, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, tomatoes, aubergine, sesame seeds, lamb and chicken.
Lebanese cuisine has its roots in hospitality. Traditionally, it was considered rude to offer a guest a drink without also offering them something to eat, and this gave rise to a host of tiny dishes collectively known as mezzes – similar to British nibbles or Spanish tapas – a wide assortment of which would be laid out in front of the guest. Typical mezzos are pastry parcels with a variety of fillings, cucumber and carrot sticks dipped in hummus (pureed chickpeas), falafel (deep-fried bean croquettes), tabboulé (salad with parsley and mint), and – yes – baba ghanoush, which is pureed aubergine mixed with tahini (ground sesame seeds), and is delicious!
Images used with permission from Kavey Eats” Kavey Eats http://www.kaveyeats.com/2014/05/warda-lebanese-the-best-lebanese-food-ive-had-since-visiting-lebanon.html