cmd-alt-mehshe: The Unstuffed Shortcut

We all love mehshe (in arabic محشي, to be pronounced me7she). Mehshe koussa, mehshe wara2 3enab, mehshe malfoof,… the list is long! In english, it would translate to stuffed courgettes, stuffed summer squash / marrow, stuffed vine leaves and stuffed cabbage. These are considered standards of our dear Lebanese cuisine, which also includes stuffed aubergines, potatoes, bell pepper, swiss chard,… well, pretty much anything that can be stuffable!

The problem with mehshe is the preparation: not only does it require patience and dexterity (which a lot of people don’t have), but it is, on top, an extremely time-consuming operation which, let’s face it, does not fit in the hectic pace of our lives. If asked, most people would tell you that they would gladly eat mehshe EVERYDAY if they could, but they almost never make it themselves. They usually only eat it  in restaurants or at family gatherings (moms, grandmas and aunties, for some reason, always have the time to make mehshe…). Continue reading

The Full Story

More and more people have been asking me health related questions lately: either questions about my history with food intolerance or Coeliac disease, questions about the symptoms I experienced and the tests I underwent; questions about the GAPS diet which I’ve been following for nearly 2 months now, its rationale and its actual impact on my condition. Most of the time, these questions seem to arise from people who are suffering “unclassified” yet consuming symptoms, and don’t know to whom to turn anymore, what doctor they should see, or what tests they should do. They simply want to know what could be causing their problem, and do something about it. But this quickly turns out to be an arduous quest, in some cases, a real Sisyphean endeavour.

I feel that these people are becoming more numerous. More and more often, I hear someone complaining about their health: be it gastrointestinal problems, weight issues, skin conditions, sensitivity of sorts, unusual fatigue, migraines, recurrent illness, depression… The list is long, and includes complaints so common that most people relate to at least one. Continue reading

The Fabulous Avocado: cream of chicken

This is the first of a series of posts, dedicated to Avocado. I would have written odes to praise the glory of this mighty fruit, but hey, this blog is not intended for poetry, and I may lose most of my readers – except the few of you who fancy verses even in their most  ludicrous context.

I am (obviously) in a phase of almost religious veneration of avocado. It’s funny because for the longest time, I felt totally indifferent towards it (to a point where I would gladly waive any avocado in my food to others; they were always baffled at such a concession – but you bet they never refused it). Continue reading

The Big Bone Operation

I warn you. This post should be rated R [ Under 17 –  requires an accompanying parent or adult guardian ], because of some of the material it contains.

First, a (not too) small background on the whys and wherefores of the Big Bone Operation.

I switched to a strict gluten-free diet after being diagnosed with Coeliac disease last December, and started to feel my energy picking up within a few weeks. Even though it was sad having to bid farewell to wheat bread for ever, I was motivated by the perspective of getting better, and genuinely excited at the challenge of a gluten-free diet, as it defies the very foundation of my eating and cooking. I had already experienced a major turning point in summer, when I eliminated all cow milk from my diet. The outcome was an incredible expansion of my tastes, knowledge and cookery skills. I started to eat – and like! – sheep and goat cheeses, I discovered the vast world of dairy alternatives – that are NOT soy based -, I started to make vegan milks and cheeses at home, and I enjoyed converting my trusted recipes to meet my new standards. Since a lot of manufactured goods contain, for some corrupted reason, dairy derivatives, I found myself spontaneously buying less ready-made goods in general, progressively withdrawing from the buzzing mainstream market.
In case you did not know, most commercial products contain to various degrees derivatives of wheat, corn, soy and milk – all in the official top 10 allergens; now isn’t that strange?…

This fascinating experience made me come to grips with the new gluten-free diet restriction with a surprisingly welcoming frame of mind. This unfamiliar cuisine expanded my horizons even more, taking the cookery experience to a whole new level. I couldn’t believe the transformation that was taking place, and looking back to my “old” self, I was amazed and proud to see I came such a long way. Not only was I doing most of my food preparation from scratch, pulling off milling, fermenting, sprouting or other supposedly preposterous activities… but I had also integrated so many foodstuffs I was previously uneasy with. Continue reading