My aunt Siham makes the best vegetarian grape leaves. My uncle Halim makes the best ribs (don’t tell my dad I said that). My cousin Vicky makes the best sauce. My sister-in-law Tania makes the best bazella. And my parents? Well, if you’ve ever had the pleasure of sitting at their table, you know that everything they make is the best (especially if you ask them).
One of the defining traits of the Lebanese culture is our hospitality. If you visit a Lebanese home, either as friend or a stranger, you will no doubt be asked if you’re hungry and then given food regardless of your response. If I called any of the people above and said “I’m hungry for ____”, rest assured a meal would be ready before I could get in the car. Because that’s one way we show our love.
When my aunt Marcelle passed away, one of the thoughts that ran through my mind in the blur of days following was that I’d never get to eat her rice again. She made this incredible rice, with ground lamb, nuts and dried fruits. If it was on the table, it was the only thing I ate. My sorrow wasn’t about not eating it again. It was for not being able to call her anymore to make it for me. It was for no longer seeing how her face would light up when I took that first glorious bite. She loved making it because I loved eating it.
When we lose someone, we lose that piece of love. My aunt Salwa passed away on March 10, 2015. She made the world’s best namoura. Every time there was a party or a bake sale, she always grabbed me and pointed out which batch was hers so I knew which ones to take. For the rest of my life, any taste of namoura will make me think of her.
We’ll miss your namoura, Aunt Salwa, but not nearly as much as we’ll miss you.