Happy New Year Friends!
How have you all been? It has been an extra chilly winter here in California so I have been making a different soup every week, using whatever seasonal produce I can find from the farmer’s market. For those of you that live in California, I will be on NBC’s California Live show next Wednesday January 12, 2022, sharing my fast food makeover ideas for those that want to start the year eating fresh and healthy!
Now, time for today’s first video of the year….a travel vlog of my trip to Dearborn Michigan! Over many decades, Arabs in the diaspora have created communities across the United States. Arabs flocked to Dearborn in particular in the early 1900s because of jobs in the auto industry. Today the 40,000 Arab Americans that live there have diversified and serve as lawyers, business owners, teachers, mayors, and much more. But the biggest draw of this area hands down is the food.
Restaurants featuring cuisine from Lebanon, Iraq, Morocco, Palestine, and Yemen dot literally every city block! As a result, this city has become a tourist attraction for for many visiting Michigan. The Arab owned restaurants, cafes, bakeries, museums, salons, and barbershops in this community have basically created a mini Middle East in South East Michigan.
As I was in Dearborn for business, I only had one day of leisure to check out as many places as possible, so I had to be very selective. First I started off with the highly recommended Lebon Sweets, an Arab bakery that not only specializes in authentic kunafa, but they also have the famous cheese dome, otherwise known as the kunafa sandwich. In this ultra decadent sandwich, a sweet buttery semolina layer envelopes a thick cheesy layer of sweet melted cheese, then is stuffed into a toasted sesame bun baked on site. While this is a cult favorite among many, especially the Lebanese, I personally like my sweets without bread. But it sure was fun trying it out–the gooey cheese was at least 3 inches thick, oozing outside the crispy bread.
Lebon also has a spectacular selection of ashta based sweets. Ashta is like a sweet super thick cream that is similar to a custard. The ashta is also topped with buttery semolina with a choice of toasted almonds or ground pistachios. They serve their desserts with sugar syrup packets because you know, some people just can’t get enough sugar! But this near diabetic coma was worth it:
No trip is complete for me without touring at least one ethnic food market, so I picked Greenland Supermarket. What started as a small grocery business decades ago has become a franchise, with massive supermarkets featuring middle eastern breads, pastries, cheeses, condiments and so much more!
To see highlights of my Dearborn tour, click on the link below, and subscribe to get part two which will feature Yemenese coffee and cuisine!