I have this theory that however cosmopolitan and well-travelled you are, you always go first to the dishes you liked as a child. At least this is my case and even now, nearly 40 years after I left the home country, I always want to eat one of my favourite Lebanese dishes, mehshi silq bil-zeyt (stuffed Swiss chard in olive oil in Arabic), as soon as I see Swiss chard in the shops. I normally get my mother to prepare it for me because it is very time-consuming but she is in Beirut. So, I decided to take the plunge and make myself some when I saw fabulously fresh Swiss chard at Zeina in Moscow Road where I shop for my Lebanese ingredients.
Today I went to my favourite Lebanese shop in London, Zen in Moscow Road, to shop for a lunch I am cooking for friends on Sunday. I love going there, especially at this time of the year because of all the seasonal produce they bring in from the home country. Not quite locavore but irresistible. They had green almonds although they were no longer fresh enough to eat whole but still tender enough to crack them easily and eat the nut inside which by that stage (stage two as I like to call it) is no longer milky and gelatinous but fully formed and crunchy, and very fresh tasting. I normally crack them open with my teeth but it may be safer to use a nut cracker!