Just back from a week in Doha, Qatar where I spent much of my time going from one feast to the next, not unlike what I had done last year when I was filming Al Chef Yaktachef (the Chef Discovers) in the UAE. So, I thought I would post pictures of a wedding feast we’d filmed where baby goats were being washed (like babies) before being seasoned with spices and put to roast in huge pots over wood fires.
So, you saw what the tripe looked like when I got it back from the butchers. It wasn’t pretty and it smelled bad! As a result, it took forever to clean. I rinsed it in what seemed like a hundred changes of cold water and every time I changed the water, I had to hold my breath. As the dirty water poured into the sink, the smell became more intense. But the stink eventually subsided and the tripe started to whiten and look clean — I also stripped the strips of fat and muck off and scraped the dirty fuzz. And in a final push to get rid of the smell, I added a little Ecover dishwahsing soap to the water and washed the tripe as if it were a piece of cloth. The interesting thing was that one stomach cleaned really well while the other didn’t. It didn’t really matter. One was enough.
Yesterday, I cooked two things I had never cooked before: a whole baby lamb and stuffed tripe (post coming up). If I’d wanted whole lambs in the past, I relied on Mohamed at Al Waha to provide them. And if I’d wanted stuffed tripe, there was my wonderful mother who never minded spending the time cleaning and stuffing both stomach and intestines whenever I visited. But my mother is far away and I wanted to roast my own lamb and stuff tripe, so, I took the plunge and prepared my own.
It’s nearly forty years since I left Lebanon. There were many things that I hated about Beirut and many that I loved. I still feel the same although much of what I loved is disappearing, like the ambulant vegetable and fruit vendors who sell their produce off wooden carts which they push through neighbourhoods while shouting out their wares. A guy like the sombrero-wearing man below would belt out “yalla ‘ala banadurah, yalla ‘ala khiyar” to let everyone know he had tomatoes and cucumbers which he may have just picked from his fields. I loved listening to their cries and always followed my mother onto the balcony to watch her bargain with the vendor to get the best possible price.