Baba Ghanoush

Now is that not a fun word? My friends and I get some strange amusement out of saying it again and again, in rhythm. If you say it fast enough it sounds like you are chanting something profound in a mysterious language. However, the saying of the word is not half so fun as the eating of the food it describes. Baba Ghanoush is actually a middle-eastern specialty made of pureed eggplant, tahini and olive oil. It is indescribably delicious on warm pita.

My lovely friend Melody had the girls of my family over for lunch the other day for a lavish middle eastern feast. I have found a kindred spirit in her because, like me, she thinks food can be disarmingly delicious and downright healthy to boot. She had brought a delectable pasta salad with roasted vegetables to our house the week before, and when I said I wanted to know how she did it, she said she’d have me over and show me how for lunch. Ah, bliss. So I perched at her kitchen counter on a Thursday noon and chopped piles of fresh vegetables and garlic while snacking on warm pita with hummus and baba ghanoush. It was so lovely to chop and talk, to laugh, and then to end it all with feasting that I told her I’d simply have to mention our time on my blog.

I think that the sharing of a feast with friends, be it big or small, is like sampling the slimmest sliver of heaven. I’ve been thinking about it all week during my lunches (Melody inspired me to whip up my own fresh hummus and I’ve had it with pita every day this week). There is something so basic in the making of a meal with other people, and yet it seems to me so symbolic of some eternal hunger in our hearts that is sated by feasting and fellowship. The times I have spent cooking with friends, talking, laughing, creating the basic elements of celebration, stand out to me as some of the best memories I have.

I remember standing in the kitchen one particular Christmas Eve, up to my elbows in potatoes and green peas, and suddenly being overwhelmed with this fleeting sense of how important the cadence and care of celebration and feasting were. In that moment, with my hands at a steady beat of chopping and the girls cooking on either side as we prepared for a whole night of memory and celebration, I felt almost dizzy with a sense of the life we were creating. But also, the life that was coming, the life of which our little feast was but a glinting reflection.

So thanks Melody. What a lunch. It was a gift in so many ways.



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9 responses to “Baba Ghanoush

  1. Melody

    You bring tears to my eyes! And I think about what community used to look like, how women would get together to bake, cook, shell peas on the front porch. There used to be so much more community around the preparation, not just the consumption, of meals. Now we put on “events” where everything is just right before our guests arrive and all messes are cleaned up or hidden. It may make the event itself more relaxing, but there is something that happens when we chop shoulder to shoulder that deepens friendship and opens conversation. Thank you for that wonderful afternoon.

  2. Jo

    Beautiful… simply beautiful.

  3. I liked what you said about the “care of celebration” and “chopping shoulder to shoulder”. There really is something special about creating a meal with friends, and enjoying the fruits of the labour together too.

    I am also still pondering the post you did the other day about “ideals”. You give my brain a lot to chew over, and I am very thankful!


  4. geektechnique

    Baba Ghanoush. Haha yes indeed that is a fun word. It comes in handy if you ever need a name. “Johnny Baba Ghanoush”, Or “Jessika Baba Ghanoush”. Wow, anyways yes I agree, feasts are important. Great post, although now I am little hungry. I am going to check my fridge, but I am pretty sure I don’t have any Baba Ghanoush. I suppose I will have to settle for homemade potato chips, which, along with ramen noodles, is pretty much it in the way of my culinary repertoire, lol.


  5. Sarah

    Ryan – That’s great! I’m already imagining the character- and a colorful one he will be! I am so definitely going to use that name in a story someday. And homemade potato chips, wow, that sounds pretty good to me!

    You are very welcome Melody! (I can’t wait to have you over sometime soon.)

    Thanks for your lovely comments Sue and Jo!

  6. That word “baba” reminds me of a children’s book (by Carolyn Croll) about four Russian women making soup. If I’m remembering correctly, the word “baba” means grandmother in Russian. Interesting connection. 🙂

    You said so many things in your post that resonate with my heart….

    “the life that was coming, the life of which our little feast was but a glinting reflection.”

    What an exquisite observation!

  7. Emily

    I have had “Baba Ghanoush” before and loved it! Sarah, your writing is simply breath taking and brings the most beautiful light to the simplest joys in life.

  8. Sarah

    kimberlee- “baba”, that’s really interesting about the grandmother. I love finding snippets of connection like that. Thanks for writing!

    Emily, your words are always so full of life and encouragement. Thanks!

  9. Mmm…. baba ganoush! I love good middle eastern food! But it sounds like the experience made it even better. Community is truly a beautiful thing!

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