Lebanon, of all places, has been providing Mexico with thousands upon thousands of wanna-be Mexicans. After more than 100 years of Lebanese immigration, there are now an impressive number of Mexicans of Lebanese descent . . . their ancestors weren't just wanna-bes, like yours truly.
|Saltillo's Lebanese Immigrant Plaza (on Jose Musa de Leon)|
Why is this worth mentioning for me? Arabic restaurants, baby! During college, I got involved with a group that served international dinners once every couple of months, and I fell in love with Middle Eastern food. Unfortunately, I'm from northeast Indiana, and Middle Eastern food is rather difficult to find. To the best of my knowledge, the nearest restaurant that serves anything wrapped in grape leaves is in Ann Arbor, a good three hours from my house. So how delightful was it to move to Saltillo, which--while twice the size of my hometown--seems half as small, I could find not one, but a number of Lebanese restaurants!
Embarassingly, though, we have only tried one. Almajal, on Jose Musa de Leon, just north of Figueroa, serves an excellent buffet every Sunday. We like it so much, we haven't bothered trying anywhere else. (But we will, we will!)
After a year of living in Puebla my hands-down favorite Mexican meal is really a Mexican-Lebanese creation, the taco arabe. It deserves its own post. We spent many a Saturday afternoon at the Antigua Taqueria Cholula, scarfing these babies down until I discovered something even better--the falafel taco. Nestled in a big, warm, pita tortilla was a bed of slivered beets, cradling a generous portion of falafels, bathed in jocoque. A-mazing.
Then Mario moved out of Cholula and the next thing we knew the Antigua Taqueria Cholula went out of business. (If anyone in Cholula/Puebla can find out that they just moved, instead of going out of business, please let me know. We will make the 12 hour drive some weekend just for the joy of the falafel taco.)
|Recreation of the falafel taco--success!|
A few months ago, when I was missing my falafel tacos more than usual, I was inspired while at the market. My verdulero had great-looking beets for sale. I had never bought them before, but thought, "Hmmm . . . with fresh flour tortillas, jocoque, these beets and falafels (from a recipe that I had just found on pinterest) I could make falafel tacos!
And I did.
And they were amazing.
And we even got Clara to eat beets, because my girly-girl three-year-old was pretty excited about a pink vegetable.
Anyway, that's all a very long, roundabout way of saying, thanks for coming to Mexico, all you Lebanese immigrants! You make this country even tastier than it already was.