Maamoul (date-filled)

Cast your mind back to your developing years, and I daresay it will result in a generous haul of recollections firmly imprinted by the repetition of simple customs and rituals performed by your family as they went about their daily business.

For me, grocery shopping on a Saturday morning, followed by a trip to the local newsagent for swap cards (carefully selected to make up sets and pairs with those painstakingly mounted in albums at home) was a weekly event that easily springs to mind. Now, as an adult, this has evolved into a regular excursion to an open air market for produce, followed by lunch at a middle-eastern bakery.

A custom of the Lebanese community at Christmastime is to bake maamoul  (pictured above). These delectable crumbly semolina biscuits filled with walnuts or dates, are such a treat, with the intricate pattern achieved by pressing the dough into a beautifully tooled wooden mold. Tis nigh on impossible to leave this bakery without a white paper bag filled with a small selection.

maamoul (walnut filled)

After perusing the wide selection of exotic grocery items and delicacies the bakery stocks and the purchases are made, it is time to sit on the well-worn timber chairs at rickety tables, enjoy good coffee and

spinach and feta

feta and spinach pies.

This constitutes a satisfying week-end ritual for us, and I am sure in many middle-eastern kitchens, families are currently taking pleasure in their seasonal ritual of baking maamoul.

watching passers by

Postscript: and what better way to lay the foundations for fond recollections, than enjoying an oregano pizza in the bakery window?


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