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Druze

  • A Taste of Druze Cuisine

    The hospitality and cuisine of the Druze community have been known for more than a thousand years in the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East. The modern states of Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Jordan have the largest Druze populations today, but you can also find Druze people in many other countries.

    In New York City, Israeli Druze chef Gazala Halabi owns two acclaimed Druze restaurants, one in Hell's Kitchen and a second on the Upper West Side. That's it, though: If you want authentic Druze cuisine outside Manhattan, you're on your own.

    Ronit has a special nostalgia for Druze cookery. While growing up in Israel, she loved to stop by Druze villages for a favorite treat: crepe-thin Druze pitas, made of dough thats stretched and spun before being tossed onto a convex outdoor griddle where it bubbles as it bakes. Continue reading

  • The Good Sumac

    The varied cuisine of the Middle East has garnered worldwide recognition for its exceptional flavors of aromatic herbs and spices; and is also considered to be some of the healthiest food to consume.

    Most dishes are grilled or baked rather than fried, and use olive oil in place of fatty butter and lard. And knowing just how much spice and herbs to use, and what kind, comes from an innate sense of skill and knowledge that was handed-down from generation to generation.

    One particular spice that is most common in Middle Eastern recipes, and is one of my favorites, is sumac. This pungent spice is made of dried, crushed red berries from the sumac bush (not to be confused with the poisonous sumac plant which is similar to poison ivy). The sumac bushes grow in the wild all across the Mediterranean region and in parts of the Middle East. The poisonous sumac plant grows almost everywhere in the United States, except Hawaii, Alaska, and some desert areas in the southwest. The poisonous variety has smooth leaves and spaced out white berries, whereas the edible sumac has tightly clustered red berries with jagged leaves. Continue reading

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