What’s a typical breakfast?
A while back, sometime last year in the fall, the New York Times along with other media outlets did a “What Kids Eat Around the World” article showing the different and various foods eaten by children and people globally. Growing up, I knew we all didn’t eat the same thing mainly because I had friends from a variety of backgrounds and we would occasionally have sleepovers. In the morning, I would get a taste – literally – of what they usually ate.
My all time favorite were the Swedes who had Swedish pancakes (similar to crepes) in which they would put anything from powdered sugar, to jam, to chocolate.
I grew up mainly eating cereal in the mornings because I had to rush off to school, but on the weekends and depending on where we were (in Saudi Arabia, visiting family in Lebanon or in the US), the food would vary.
During the summers when we would go visit family in Lebanon – even during the civil war – I remember the freshest of foods. When I go to visit to this day, it’s one of my all time favorite meals, especially when it’s a larger group of people. I would list out the names of all the things we eat, but unfortunately there are no English names for them and I would have to explain all the ingredients in each, which would lead to a several thousand word blog post. And no one wants that.
So I’ve picked one of my favorites that I have come to make here because I’ve been able to get several of the ingredients (thank you Middle Eastern stores!). It of course doesn’t taste exactly the same as when I go to Lebanon, but it sure comes close. It’s also pretty healthy.
I’ll start with manouche (prounounced mun-ooo-shee). It’s essentially a dough bread in the shape of a small to medium sized pizza that has zaatar mixed with olive oil spread on it. Zaatar is essentially toasted sesame seeds mixed with several herbs that include thyme, oregano, and marjoram (actually zaatar in Arabic means thyme). Depending on the mix, other herbs and/or spices might be mixed in (it varies in Arab countries and even within Lebanon itself). When mixed in with olive oil, it becomes spreadable. It is then baked for about 10 minutes or so and served warm.
We tend to eat it with labne (I’m proud to say I have gotten a number of my American friends hooked on it), which is simply strained yogurt. I didn’t used to find labne in the US (unless I went to a specialty Middle Eastern store) until just a few years ago I happened upon it in Whole Foods. I was thoroughly surprised. It’s now starting to pop up in a few other organic-y markets, but I still tend to get it from Whole Foods or a Middle Eastern shop. My favorite one that I’ve found around here is this one, in case you are wondering. I should add labne is basically a staple in a Lebanese home. We eat it on it’s own, with a bit of olive oil, with vegetables, pita bread, olives, manouche, and well you name it. If you ever walk into our house – and my friends here know this well – you’ll find a small tub of it in our fridge.
Lastly, we’ll add some vegetables to our manouche mix such has tomatoes, cucumber, or even fresh mint.
As for drink, we’ll tend to have either coffee, hot tea, or a juice of some sort.
I wish I could eat this everyday because I would, but I usually reserve it for the weekends when I can take my time to make the spread and put it over a bread that is already pre-baked (also from Middle Eastern stores), then warm it up in the oven. Oh so tasty.
What’s your typical breakfast?