PB#1-Lebanese Taverna, by Cindell Corbeil

11 Sep

I wasn’t particularly excited to venture out and about Friday morning. It had been raining for days, and the soppy ground and dreary skies didn’t seem like ideal field trip conditions, but by the end of our trip, standing beneath the overhang of an apartment building, waiting for our shuttle back to campus, with our tummies full of delicious foods, and our minds swimming with the history of the Lebanese Taverna, the day was poised to be a good one.
We started the trip with samples of dishes traditionally served at the taverna, including Fattoush, Moussaka (no meat in this Arabic version!), Tabbouleh, and the smoothest, most delicious Hummus I’ve ever had. Before we dug in, our hostess explained different methods by which the foods are prepared. The secret to their ultra-smooth hummus is soaking the chick-peas overnight, to avoid any grainy texture once they’re pureed, and while some of their foods are fried, the clean canola and olive oils they use don’t leave the end product soaked in all of the health-horrors that traditional, American, deep frying would. While we snacked on foods that some of us had never eaten before, and some of us are accustomed to, we were treated to a brief history of the Lebanese Taverna.
While war raged in Lebanon, the owners of the Taverna made their way to the United States where they were able to buy the Taverna, originally called “Greek Taverna.” Unable to afford an entirely new sign for the establishment, they simply replaced the “Greek” part of the sign with “Lebanese” and so the Lebanese Taverna was born. Currently, the Taverna has multiple locations and serves food to the citizens in the D.C. area, as well as professionals in the Egyptian, Saudi Arabian, and other embassies.

Before venturing to the Taverna, I was assigned an article to read, about the various ingredients commonly used in Middle Eastern and North African cuisine. I was interested by how some of these varied and some were similar to the sorts of things commonly used in the foods I eat, and wondered “will these ingredients be prevalent in the foods sold at the Lebanese Taverna?” To find out, I ventured around during our visit, to see what the Taverna sells.
The article (located at http://www.whats4eats.com/middle-east-ingredients) lists such things as: lamb, pomegranates, roots, vegetable oils, cous-cous, eggplant, garlic, zaatar, grape-leaves, and chick-peas as common finds in a Middle Eastern, or Arabic pantry (along with many others). All of the afore mentioned ingredients were found at least once, and some, many times over in dishes served at the Lebanese Taverna, and my question was answered with a very obvious ‘yes’. Behind glass, to be purchased are pickled baby eggplants, grape leaves with meats, Garlic Sauce, Cous-Cous Pilaf, Bean salad, Zaatar, Lamb Kabob and various others, all of which look quite appetizing, and whose ingredients can be found in the guide.