My husband recently took a group of people on a trip to Syria. One of the stops was breakfast at my parents’ home.
Although it was nothing out of the ordinary for her, my mom chuckled during a phone call to me shortly after they left. “They were taking pictures of the breakfast laid out on the table.” That breakfast was routine as far as he was concerned-black and green olives, fresh tomatoes, seedless cucumbers, several kinds of cheese, fresh eggs from the farm, makdousi (a pickled miniature eggplant stuffed with walnuts, green pepper and garlic), za’atar and fresh bread-.
Compared to the way we Americans prepare and eat breakfast, maybe it was worth photographing. We have become so rushed in our lives that we feel privileged if we have time to gulp down a bagel or a couple bites of breakfast cereal. An entire industry has grown by taking advantage of this proclivity for rushing through the morning. We are now blessed with Pop-Tarts, frozen waffles with syrup already inside- as though we are too rushed to pour our own syrup-power bars and other such home-based fast foods.
In my younger years in Damascus I was famous for not what is called “morning person,”. My mother would shake me out of bed and send me to school with a sandwichie, which was her version of breakfast on the go. It was a huge loaf of flat bread, some 14 inches in diameter, enclosed around fresh cheese, slices of tomatoes, slices of cucumbers and fresh mint leaves ( to make certain that my breath always smelled sweet,) then wrapped with a sheet of thin paper. It is the original of the now popular “wrap” being sold all over America.
Nutrition scientists have discovered that the human brain functions much more efficiently if one eats and adequate breakfast. After a breakfast, children do better during school hours, something that is true for working adults as well.
By now, shouldn’t we have figured out that not eating breakfast is what drives our children to vending machines during the day? That’s where they ingest their daily ration of junk food with al the accompanying preservatives, as well as sugar-loaded colas and other soft drinks that tend to ruin their teeth.
In Egypt, the main course for breakfast a dish call ful (pronounced food) madammas. It a healthy and inexpensive dish. I make it in my restaurant as an appetizer.
Ful Madammas (fava beans breakfast)
2 1/2 cups cooked small fava bean
1 medium tomato, diced
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, mashed
1 cup finely chopped parsley
1/2 cup lemon juice
4 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
-In a small sauce pan, heat the fava beans in their liquid. Bring to a boil. Remove from the heat.
-Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. This dish can be eaten hot or cold.