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  • Writer's pictureNick Clarizio

Slungry (Menu #3)

Updated: Oct 8, 2023

Dear Devoted Fans,


I'm coining a new term ---"slungry", sleepy-hungry. I don't know if it's just me, but I get bouts of yawning and fatigue when the hunger gets real. And I can tell you that the hunger got real at certain points this week ---specifically, Wednesday.


The menu is so extensive for that day because my friends and I had a potluck. This was actually a recreation of a dinner we did the summer before college, where we teamed up to make dishes together. One of my friends and I made Chicken Parmesan, while two of our other friends made stir-fry. In 5 years, the menu changed, but the vibes didn't one bit. I still love those people with all my heart. Sharing a meal with anyone is a plus; sharing a meal with them is a michelin-star experience. You may notice that the menu for Saturday is quite extensive, too. I have to share a dirty little secret: I went out to eat. (Yes, even I do that.) One of my friends and I went to a modern Mexican/fusion restaurant together to catch up on life and fill up our stomachs. Without going into too many details, the ambiance was cozy and comforting yet energizing, the food was crafty while still incorporating traditional elements, and the experience was another michelin-star moment. I also went out to eat at a Greek place with my dad on Friday ---hence, the saganki. I won't name names, but it was lackluster.



Anyway, so that you don't get slungry chewing on these crumby details, let's chow down on some of this week's menu!


Lablabi لبلابي:

Lablabi is a Tunisian soup (Clark ND; Karadsheh 2023). The New York Times claims that there "are myriad ways to cook lablabi [my italics]" (Clark ND). Vice mentions versions with "capers, olives, lemon, pickled vegetables, and tuna (another Tunisian favorite). Some places add cow's hooves to the soup (a variety called hergma), and in the northern town of Bizerte, you can get lablabi [my italics] sandwiches" (Lageman 2016). Most lablabi seem to share a few common traits ---namely: chickpeas; stale bread; thin(ish) tomato broth scented with cumin, garlic, and potentially other spices; and harissa [a Maghrebi condiment and personal favorite of mine] (Lageman 2016; Karadsheh 2020, 2023; Clark ND; Al-Khusaibi, Al-Habsi, and Shafiur Rahman 2019 in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lablabi). The NYT recipe for it (https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1020874-lablabi-tunisian-chickpea-soup) omits the bread inherent to most other recipes (Clark ND). According to Vice, the bread seems to be integral to the lablabi experience in Tunisia (Lageman 2016).


"Eating lablabi is quite an experience. You first have to get your hands on a clean ceramic bowl—don't try to queue in this country or you'll end up hungry. Then you pay at the counter, where you're given a piece of stale, round Arabic bread (too stale for a sandwich). You tear that up into small pieces. Next, jostle your way to the soup man, who will pour a thin soup with boiled chickpeas into your bowl. He'll also add a dash of olive oil, a large spoon of salt, garlic, and cumin. 'Har ou moush har?' he'll then ask. Mild or spicy? In other words, how much harissa do you want—lots or even more? Finally, he'll crack open an egg to top it off, either soft-boiled or raw. You need to stir it all well" (Lageman 2016).

My iteration of this recipe is still a work in progress. I hadn't learned, for example, that bread is integral to this recipe until I researched it for this week's menu. Moreover, I wouldn't have quickly thought of adding an egg or other forms of meat to it. But I'm inspired. Perhaps next time I'll add yogurt or an egg; maybe I'll top it with homemade preserved lemon ---as this recipe suggests: https://www.themediterraneandish.com/lablabi-tunisian-chickpea-stew/ (Karadsheh 2023). The limitless creativity afforded by cooking is one of my favorite elements of it. I encourage you to take inspiration from dishes and recipes, then fuse and modify them to your liking! I, for instance, make my lablabi with a thicker broth, making it closer to a stew than a soup ---that's just my preference. Do your own thing, and be proud of it!



Borani Esfenaj برانی اسفناج :

This is another recipe where I'm still fine-tuning my version. Borani Esfenaj is, in general terms, a Persian spinach dip with walnuts (Deravian ND; Homa 2014). Most versions include at least: spinach, yogurt, garlic, onion, and walnuts (Deravian ND; Homa 2014). In fact, Borani is a category of yogurt-based foods in Iranian/Persian cuisine, so yogurt is a must (Deravian ND). Following in the footsteps of the NYT recipe (https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1023209-borani-yeh-esfenaj-spinach-yogurt-dip), my version includes (for now) spices like pepper and turmeric, too (Deravian ND). I'm no expert, but technically your options are endless when making a borani dish. It seems that whatever vegetable you want to cook and combine with yogurt could become a borani dish. For example, my current recipe also incorporates raw chopped parsley and cilantro to cut through the musk of the turmeric and the sharpness of the garlic. In the future, I envision cooking these down with the spinach ---almost as if I'm making kuku sabzi کوکو) سبزی) ---then combining them with the yogurt. That way, the flavors will be rounder and better integrated.



Without further ado, here's this week's menu!




Bibliography


Al-Khusaibi, Mohammed, Nasser Al-Habsi, and Mohammad Shafiur Rahman, eds. 2019. Traditional

Foods: History, Preparation, Processing and Safety. Food Engineering Series. Springer Nature.


Clark, Melissa. ND. “Lablabi (Tunisian Chickpea Soup) Recipe.” NYT Cooking. ND.

Deravian, Naz. ND. “Borani-Yeh Esfenaj (Spinach Yogurt Dip) Recipe.” NYT Cooking. ND.

Homa. 2014. “BORANI ESFENAJ برانی اسفناج.” October 27, 2014. https://persianmama.com/spinach-


Karadsheh, Suzy. 2020. “Easy Homemade Harissa (How to Make Harissa).” The Mediterranean Dish. July

Karadsheh, Suzy. 2023. “Lablabi (Tunisian Chickpea Stew).” The Mediterranean Dish. February 10, 2023.

Lageman, Thessa. 2016. “This Fiery Tunisian Soup Is Not for the Faint of Heart.” Vice (blog). March 28,






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