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