Very soon I will be back in London and it will be the end of my lovely Italian meals unless I decide to recreate cacciucco alla Livornese in my own kitchen which I doubt somehow. Not so much because I cannot get the different fish and seafood that I need for this amazing fish stew (or soup depending on who describes it) but really because the pleasure of eating it in my kitchen, however lovely it is, will never equal that of enjoying it while looking out at the fabulous sunset that evening.
I can’t say that I am finding London life that exciting except possibly for today when the weather was lovely and lunch at Keu, the new banh mi place next to me, sitting at the window counter was even lovelier. Other days, when the weather is dull and I am trying to work, I cheer myself up by looking at my pictures of China, wondering when I will go back to eat jian bing again and my latest discovery, a Mongolian hotpot.
Another great trip to Syria with a wonderful group. We had great fun despite being driven by possibly the most stubborn and moronic driver ever. He and his uncomfortable bus (supposedly VIP) were the low point of an otherwise lovely trip.
As usual, the food was delicious with one of the great hits being breakfast at my favourite fawwal (ful medammes specialist) where lovely Hajj Abdo makes the best ever ful medammes. Like Hanna, Hajj Abdo is a wonderful old man who’s been making ful medammes for over fifty years; and he is still personally in charge of the making and serving of his speciality. Here he is in action. What you see him doing in this clip is what he does, almost non-stop, from 7 am to 3 pm every day.
I tend to have an obsessive personality. If I like a shirt, I will buy half a dozen and not necessarily in different colours! If I enjoy a new dish, I will eat it again and again until I get bored with it. And if I want to taste something that is not so commonly available, I will think about it again and again until I find a way to try it.
Recently, I was invited to a feast in Al Ain, near Abu Dhabi. As is the custom here, I was relegated to the women’s quarters. I didn’t mind this. The host’s wife was gorgeous and totally charming; and I enjoyed talking to her about how she and her mother prepare various Emirati dishes. And when the time came for us to have lunch, I was thrilled to finally try camel meat cooked their way — as you know from a previous post, I have only had it minced and grilled on the street in Syria. Later, when all the male guests at the feast left, I joined the men of the house and as we talked about the feast, I realised that us women had been deprived of the camel hump. This was understandable. The choice cut is always served to the guest of honour and that day, this guest was sadly not me.