episode 48 :: giving thanks

I’ve never understood why we only choose the fourth Thursday of every November to gather with our families, make food the center focus of the day, and give thanks for the wonderful things in our lives.  Why can’t every day be Thanksgiving?  Isn’t it time we take time out of every day to focus on enjoying our family, sharing a great meal, and talking to one another?

In this week’s episode, we visit the home of my good friend Afaf, who was born and raised in Syria.  As you’ll hear in our conversation, a day that resembles our Thanksgiving happens every day in Syria. At around 2:00 PM, the city shuts down, everyone returns home, and the family enjoys a big meal.  They spend two hours eating, talking, laughing, singing, praying, whatever.  The bottom line is, they stop everything to enjoy the things in their lives that matter to them the most. The only thing missing is watching the Lions get their asses handed to them in front of a national audience.  But who’d miss that?

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Afaf shares her history in Syrian cooking, how she was brought up to cook the smaller dishes as her mother focused on the main meal.  And as she settled into living in America, she began to miss the food of her home country. This prompted her to explore the idea of obtaining fresh ingredients, spending the countless hours (and sometimes days) it takes to make some of these intricate dishes.

More than anything, Afaf shares the ideologies behind Syrian culture, and why food is so important to them.

Later, we enter Afaf’s kitchen, where she shows me how to make Kebbeh, both baked and fried.  Believe me, it sounds easy and even looks easy, but that’s the magic of Afaf’s abilities in the kitchen.  It’s an involved process, and the results are beyond delicious.

Check out Afaf’s pictures on making Kebbeh here. If you’d like to try making Kebbeh at home, get the recipe and illustrated directions on Afaf’s web site.

Thanks for listening, and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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12 thoughts on “episode 48 :: giving thanks

  1. Just keeps getting better and better Phil. The interview with Afaf was amazing. I had no idea that there were so many dishes from Syria. And you asked a very important question about the freshness of the ingredients – they do live in a hot climate. I’ve often wondered where these fresh green vegetables come from. I thought they were imported.

    Happy Turkey Day!

    1. Thanks Dan. Afaf is an amazing person, and I’m lucky to know her. The vegetable thing had me puzzled, so I knew I wanted to ask about that. Nature amazes me.

  2. Those photos make it all make sense. It did sound pretty difficult, but I think it can be pulled off. She’s an incredibly passionate home cook. I liked listening to her talk about the mid-day break they would take to eat. I’m sure that would never work in our country, but it’s a nice idea.

    I’m thankful for my life as a foodie. ha ha

    Good show, Phil. Enjoy the holiday.

    1. Thanks Andy. It is a recipe that sounds and looks easier than it is to pull off, but it’s all about time and technique. Take your time, and get the technique down and you can pull this off.

      If you try it, let us know!!!

  3. Great to hear you speak so passionately about your friend. I love Greek food, which I know is very similar in style to a lot of the dishes she makes. Have you ever had or heard of hariisah? It’s similar to what she made in her kitchen. It’s made from meat and bulgur wheat, but it’s contained in a sweet pastry made of flour melted butter and sugar. It’s delicious and they used lamb when they made it, not beef.

  4. I finally found a few minutes to listen to this episode – and I loved every minute. Knowing Afaf, having eaten her food on more than one occasion, and also knowing how passionate she is about her country and its cuisine made listening to this even more special. It was great going through the step-by-step for the recipe, and hearing a little more about Afaf’s history. She’s an amazing lady! Thanks Afaf! Thanks Phil!

    1. Appreciate your comments, Charles. We are both lucky to have had Afaf’s food. I love her passion for her food, her friends, her family, and her life. It’s infectious.

  5. Being a close friend of Afaf’ for years I have had numerous opportunities to indulge myself with her wonderful dishes. She is a fantastic cook and her invites are always ending up a delectable delight for me and my family!!! After listening to your show I was highly impressed and you touched on the wonderful Afaf that all her friends love so dearly. She is a treasure not just for her wonderful cooking abilities but just as one of the great friends i have had the opportunity to know in my life. I am glad she has brought a little bit of Syria here to the United States for us to enjoy because I can’t imagine my life without those wonderful experiences I’ve had knowing her!!!! She is the best!!!!!

    1. Carol, I appreciate you stopping by and commenting here. You are blessed to have Afaf as a close friend. She is definitely one of my favorite people to know, and she continues to surprise me with her thoughtfulness and ability to give more than you think someone is capable of.

  6. I was so thrilled to listen to your podcast! This was my first one and I will be back for more. I will be downloading them via iTunes to listen to while I workout. Listening to a foodie describe yummy edibles while I workout could be very tempting. At the same time motivating to train hard and eat great foods!

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