Vahan Janjigian made the first falafel I ever had -- it was good and since then, I’ve had them at home, usually made from a mix available from the Near East, which is found in most grocery stores nowadays.
Janjigian’s heritage is Armenian, a country that has seen its share of political struggles for sure. Falafel is a dish that goes back to the Middle East; most historians would place it in Egypt.
When we talk about cuisine, we often call something “Middle Eastern.”The traditional definition of this area includes the countries of Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and others.
Arabs, Azeris, Kurds, Persians and Turks constitute the largest ethnic groups in this region while Armenians, Assyrians, Circassians, Copts, Druze, Jews, Maronites, Somalis form the largest minorities. That’s a lot of cultures to lump together and there are differences, of course, but one thing they have in common is food. They all enjoy falafel sandwiches, pita bread and lamb.
While many associate the gyros sandwich (lamb stuffed inside a pita) as Greek, it has a much larger reach than that one country.
When I can’t figure out what I?want to cook, or worse yet, I have nothing to cook, I tend to go to the bin of root vegetables. I keep carrots, onions and potatoes on hand as a staple, but I almost always have other roots in there -- maybe fennel, leeks, celeriac, kohlrabi or turnips. They’re all good keepers. Better yet, they make some satisfying dishes that fill you up with goodness.
Every food has its day, and this week is really sweet --today is Peaches and Cream Day; Monday is Eclair Day; Tuesday is Pecan Sandy Day and Wednesday is Pralines Day. I think we better stop there -- too much sugar and you might not make it to Thursday.
What’s nice about this lineup is the recipes start with the super easy and move into the more complicated art of candy making.