By Ray Hanania
Great tasting Middle Eastern food is growing in popularity. We have a new Facebook Page where you can find the best Arab restaurants in America
As an Arab born in America, I have been on a constant hunt for great tasting Middle Eastern food, besides the great recipes that my mother used to cook, slaving every day over the oven to create some of the most tantalizing and exquisite Arab food dishes ever.
I am always looking for new restaurants because the rise of Arab restaurants in any American city usually denotes the presence of other Arabs.
Ironically, American Arab restaurants can’t rely on the Arab community for support, to succeed. They need to appeal to Americans For many years in the 1950s and 1960s, that support was non-existent. But in 1966, stores specializing in Middle East food ingredients like Ziyad Brothers Importing (which first opened in 1966 on Chicago’s Southwest Side) helped the Arab community to obtain the ingredients they needed to make their food recipes, share with their American neighbors and start a slow but steady process to get other Americans to appreciate the brilliance of Arab World food recipes.
Today, the Mediterranean Diet is considered one of the healthiest you can follow. It relies on key Middle East and Arab World food items such as extra Virgin Olive Oil, Tahini (sesame seed paste used in salads and main dishes), olives, and salads like Tabouleh (diced tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley mixed with cracked wheat) and a fast growing favorite, Hummus, which is made from very healthy garbanzo beans.
In the 1970s and 1980s as the Arab immigration to cities like Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Detroit and others steadily grew, the community started to sprout Arab and Middle East restaurants. Gyros is actually an Arab sandwich popular throughout the Middle East, called by its true name, Shawirma! And another great and popular food item is felafel, which is a deep fried bean which has become a staple of the vegetarian as well as the health-driven community in America.
And, as a positive consequence to the many horrible conflicts in the Middle East, many Americans who served in Iraq during the 1990s and fought in Iraq and the Middle East over the years, have come to love Arab food.
Arab restaurants today have a growing audience of non-Arabs who love Arab food for a lot of reasons besides great taste, and health. They also love it because it’s a connection to an experience they, or their sons and daughters had over recent years.
To help celebrate this growing phenomena of Arab Middle East restaurants, The Arab Daily News has set up a new Facebook Page which we hope you will “Like.” It’s called “Great Middle East Restaurants.”
Here is the website address:
Please post positive reviews about your favorite restaurants. (If you don’t like a place, don’t write about it. It’s always better to remain positive.) As one philosopher wrote, “A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.”
So please celebrate Arab food, Arab recipes and Arab restaurants by joining in and sharing information, and photographs, of your favorite Arab American restaurants and their menu selections.
Another great link for Middle Eastern and Arab food recipes is at Ziyad Brothers Importing’s website. Click www.Ziyad.com and go to their growing wealth of great recipes, and endless catalogues of the finest in Middle Eastern food products.
Thanks so much