This Lebanese rice dish is the perfect side to serve up with grilled meats or Mediterranean recipes.
I was inspired to share this dish with you after reading our Lit Happens selection for February.....
Lit Happens is an online Facebook book club that was started by my friend Cam of Culinary Adventures with Camilla. There is no requirement to be a blogger nor to blog a recipe or review of the book. Those who choose to join read the book during the month and the host for the month posts questions on our Facebook page and we have an online discussion.
Camilla is hosting this month and suggested we read First Comes Marriage by Huda Al-Marashi after she learned that the author was the sister of a friend with whom she had attended high school.
I started this book as we were driving up north to meet with friends and finished it on the drive home. It is the story of two strict Muslim families who are longtime friends and whose children get married. It is a memoir written by Huda who decided that she wanted to get married right out of high school thinking that marriage meant freedom.
It was a very good look at the Muslim culture, or at least the culture of Huda, her family, her husband and his family. I was disturbed by Huda and her behavior towards her husband. I was disturbed by her selfishness and obstinance. So disturbed in fact that, after a lovely dinner and visit with our friends, I lay awake in bed bothered by her insensitivity towards others and her oversensitive thin skin.
Then it occurred to me why Huda bothered me so much. She reminded me, very much, of myself at that age. You see, I too was a young bride, married at 16 and pretending to be an adult. The problem was, as Huda also found out, we were not adults. We were teenagers with teenage brains and teenagers are selfish and insecure and thin skinned and obstinate.
There is truth to the science that a person's brain is not fully developed until they are 25. This is not a problem when you are living the life of a teenager or young adult learning to find your way in this world and deciding how you are going to want to shape your life and your future. It is a problem when you made those decisions prematurely and unknowingly put yourself into a position that you could not be prepared nor ready for.
It took the section of the memoir where Huda was suffering anxiety attacks that created gastrointestinal problems for me to realize that I was seeing myself on the pages. My anxiety, too, came out through gastritis.
I ended up loving this book. I enjoyed watching Huda come into her own as she matured and recognized the folly of her youth. I hope that there is a sequel because I would love to see how life turned out for her and her family.
There was some food in the book and there was a LOT of food inspiration. From the foods of the Middle East which was required to be Halal for Huda and her family, to the food of California, USA where Huda was born and raised to the food of Mexico where Huda and her husband lived while he attended medical school.
I had made a Middle Eastern dinner for Frank's birthday last year that included Shish Tawook, Beef Kafta and Lebanese Rice. I shared the Chicken recipe and the Beef and Rice recipes went into my archives. When I read this memoir and Huda spoke of a dinner of Shish Kabobs and Rice that she made for friends, it reminded me that I had not yet shared these recipes with my readers.
You are welcome to read this book and join in our discussion just stop by our Facebook Page and let Camilla know you would like to join us. I will be sharing this review and recipe over at Foodies Read too. Stop by and see what others are reading this month.