The year is coming to an end, and I was reflecting on my favourite thing I ate in 2014. There’s still some time left, but the lamb kebab pita and grilled cauliflower I had at Miznon restaurant, a small casual Israeli joint I visited in Paris last month. It was introduced to my wife and I by Lina, a Northwest graduate. I’ve tried my darnest to replicate the flavours in my kitchen, but some aromas and flavours are impossible to duplicate, requiring a culture’s experience with the ingredients and subtle spice combinations. As soon as I walked through the door of this tiny and humble place, the smells wooed me into a frenzy. Middle Eastern flavours, in my mind, are the most enticing.
I don’t think culinary schools in North America or Europe pay enough attention to the vast influences of Middle Eastern cuisines. In fact, much of what we know about food is thanks to the thousands of years of incredible cooking, trading, and fusion from this part of the world. I was hoping to find a way to implement the dishes I enjoyed at Miznon into the cooking classes I spearhead during Middle East days, but I haven’t yet come close to achieving those flavours. My wife, Rita, who also claims those two dishes to be the best in 2014 (thus far), and is Middle Eastern herself, says I’m trying too hard…especially with the spices. Being of Italian decent, I’m more of an herb guy. But I’ll keep trying.