Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day Seventy-Four (Flayir bil-Flayfli - The Universal Language of Food)

I am so attached to food and eating and feeding anyone who crosses my path.   Food is the one link to my ancestoral past.  Imagine escaping your home, leaving all behind, and having family members scatter.  The images are lost, there are no papers, just memories.  But, when the memories fade, the languages are forgotten, and the generation who braved the escape is gone, those born into new generations have lost the links.  We are orphans longing for that connection.  But out of the gardens and bowls and ovens arise certain textures, aromas, and tastes that are like the spirits of our grandparents.  They linger; they evoke emotion and bring about comfort.

So it is.  My grandparents immigrated to the US around 1912 from the Middle East, leaving all behind, venturing into a new land.   Their children were taught to be "American" and to look whiter and dress cleaner, to lose the accent, and forget the language.   Their grandchildren so blended in the New World that there was barely a vestige of the past, except, that is for the flavors.

And, it is with these flavors, and the careful hand making of food that I channel my grandparents, thanking them for making the hard journey, for leaving their families, and for holding out hope for generations to come.   And, it is with these flavors that I feel so at home, so grounded and so connected to that lost world that I may never see and the language I will never learn.  And, it is with these flavors that I will pass on family history with tastes that no one will forget.

And, here I offer one of my situ's favorite recipes - yes, I know that I have posted this before, but good history should repeat itself.

And thanks to my cousin Donna who I saw at the Shogry Family reunion, I have found out the Arabic Name for these!!! Flayir bil-Flayfli

Two Spelt Right Pizza Doughs, fully thawed, double in size (we'll give you a picture this time)
Two cups walnuts (measure and then chop finely)
Two medium red peppers
One onion finely chopped
Juice from two whole lemons
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Mix all ingredients (except dough) in medium bowl
Cut 12-16 even dough balls (from two doughs)
Stretch or roll the dough to about 1/4 inch thick (more or less) rounds, place on oiled baking sheet
Place about 2 TBL of pepper, walnut mixture on rounds
Bake at 40-450 for 15-20 minutes or until dough is golden brown.

These are great hot or cold for breakfast, snacks, lunch, dinner, or after dinner. Yum, yum, and yum. Always a two thumbs up.


  1. Beth, my mom made these often (though not with Speltrigh Dough). They always seemed to appear when family came to visit and they are definitely part of our food history. However, unlike you I haven't tried this recipe on my family, but your note has motivated me to give the recipe a try. Also, though Donna gave you the real Arabic name, I remember calling them mini-pizza's as kids!

  2. Denise, your mom was the best cook ever! During one summer in college that I worked at a law office, she would make me the most incredible meals. She became my culinary inspiration.