Tuesday, May 05, 2009

anissa helou's blog for middle eastern foodies

The Lebanese-Syrian cookery writer (the covers of two of her impressively varied range of cook books are shown here), teacher and culinary tour organiser Anissa Helou has launched Anissa's blog which looks set to be a witty, informative picture-rich must-read for anyone interested in Middle Eastern food. The latest posting features a camel-meat butchery and kebab joint in Damascus complete with pictures of the camel's head swinging from a hook while Anissa gets up close and personal. Anissa writes: "Much later I learned from Ahmed, my wonderful driver in Aleppo, that all good Muslims must eat camel meat at least once a year. Why? Because camels, unlike most animals, are faithful. They don’t allow their camel wives to be seduced by other camels! Didn’t double check on that but I am prepared to believe him." The butcher minced the camel meat rather than, as Anissa expected, threading chunks on skewers. He said this was because kebab in Syria means the meat, however the kebabs are cooked, is minced and added that camel meat is too tough to grill in pieces. Having sampled roast camel one Christmas day in Saudi Arabia at a feast hosted by Saudis in the desert - complete with food tents and carpets on the sand - I can concur that it is considerably chewier than lamb. Anissa's verdict on her camel kebabs: not that much different from lamb. A little drier perhaps, and gamier.

Speaking of camel meat, the Guardian website has a video report on Mike Richardson who "used to serve eggs benedict to celebs at the Wolseley in London. Now, he tells Andy Pietrasik, he's happy flipping camel burgers in his Fes cafe." The video bears the title 'One hump or two?'

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