Mid-East Munchies: 3 Ways to Indulge

Mid-East Munchies: 3 Ways to Indulge

You can get there from here. ~ Natasha Trethewey

Pistachios, dates, cardamom, tahini, black limes, herbs of all sorts, lots of lamb, olives, and . . . well, olive oil. 

What delicious memories do these staples of Mediterranean cooking conjure up for you?

For me, it used to be my freshman year, at Syracuse University. 

That’s where I (happily) fell in with a group of Kuwaiti students who introduced me to Middle Eastern food. 

I transferred out for the warmer climes of Northern California after that first year, but not before gaining an enduring affection for hummus, stuffed grape leaves, and other foods necessary for survival in a civilized world. 

Now, since our trip to Israel, the memories include the aroma of fresh bread dipped in hyssop and daily servings of the freshest fish

Fresh Tilapia

What to do with these yearnings so far from those eastern deserts and the sea?

Memorize the routes to your nearest Whole Foods and international food stores ~ and get creative with your activities: 

1) Watch a favorite movie set in the Middle East ~ Ben-Hur and the one about the legendary racing horse, Hidalgo, are two of mine. 

And when the inevitable feast-scene comes around and the characters start stuffing their faces with pomegranates and fresh dates

Chilled, fresh dates

join them in a feast of your own with dates dipped in tahini ~ ground sesame seed paste.

Dates Dipped in Tahini

I’ve never needed a movie to enjoy this combo, though ~ this idea from suncuisine.blogspot.com. Thanx, Elham!

2) The next time you feel like making a ham or turkey sandwich, don’t. Make falafel with pita bread instead. Aside from the chickpeas you fry to make the balls of falafel, you likely have most if not all of the ingredients in your home right now. 

Falafel, peppers, & pita bread

Onions, eggplant, tomatoes, cilantro, garlic, cumin and peppers, green bell peppers and the kind to make it as harif ~ spicy ~ as you like.

Eggplant & falafel

Oh, yeah.

3) And when it’s time to give yourself a treat, force your eyes away from the chocolate truffles and cheesecake and order a sweet and crispy baklava instead. (If it has been in the fridge, wait until it reaches room temperature before the first bite. You’ll be glad you did!)

Golan Heights Baklava


What movie or foods come to mind when you think about the Middle East?



  • Inge

    You’re making me hungry. I love Mediterranean food too.They all look so delicious and I love eating fresh fish. Do you cook all that yourself? If so… wow… you’re quite industrious and what a great cook.

    • MelodieK

      For the most part, these are samples of the beautiful food to be found in Israel ~ so good ~ much of it on the street (as well as in restaurants.)

  • http://mjskitchen.com/ mjskit

    Dipping dates in tahini while watching Hidalgo sounds good to me! Love that movie and love the idea of dates and tahini even more. Nice post!

    • MelodieK

      Thanks, MJ ~ Hope you can try the dates with tahini soon ~ preferably with our favorite movie about one amazing horse in an amazing race.

  • Melissa AuClair

    Baklava and hummus- two of my favorites! The pictures make my mouth water :)

    • MelodieK

      Yes . . . baklava! And hummus . . do you like yours garlicky? I’ve found whatever amount the recipe says to use, I always add a bit more.

  • Sherry Carver

    I am so sad that we don’t live near each other — you could open my palate to so many new tastes — I LOVE your pictures — they tell a story too.

  • MelodieK

    Sherry ~ You’d enjoy the story of the family in the Golan Heights who made the baklava. Seems we had falafel for lunch often enough, but we all thought theirs was the best of the entire trip. Our driver went out of the way to get there. And the yummy baklava is a just a “sideline” . . . !

  • Sheryl Balthrop

    Yummmm! Your articles and photography are an absolute delight. They bring back such wonderful memories. Our family would play Turkish music while we Aleksander kebabs. Thank you for inspiring me to begin again!

  • MelodieK

    Oh, Sheryl ~

    Sounds like it, but you couldn’t have known . . was just musing about the top 5 places I’ve never been but hope to visit soon ~ and Turkey was one of them! To eat those juicy kebabs there will be . . . amazing!

    Thanks for the idea about maximizing our dining experience with the appropriate scene-setting music ~ sweet!