Across the street from the building where I work, a new Middle Eastern market opened.  My company recently moved to the new location as well so we definitely wanted to make friends with the folks who own the market…you know, being neighborly.  The guys who own it are super friendly and a lot of fun.  A co-worker and I were in there the other day and one of the owners took us around through the store and showed us a lot of the goods they sold.  We talked about different foods and cooking and a little bit of everything.  As we were talking, he opened a bottle of olive oil and a bag of bread and another of green za’atar (which I learned, is wheat, thyme, sumac and sesame).  We dipped our bread and ate way too much standing around goofing off.

A bag of green za'atar Awesome hummus

Our friend watched us eat every bite, trying to tell if we liked it or if we were about to run out the door.  He suggested some spicy pickles and awesome hummus and all sorts of other things.  We loaded our baskets with all sorts of things.  I think we passed the test because he finally took us over to the jars of makdous (check this out…Arabic for makdous: المكدوس‎   It’s sort of pretty.  I love wikipedia).  I am not sure if you folks have ever seen a jar of makdous but it looks as if it belongs in a biology lab.  I could only describe it in fairly crude terms which I won’t directly mention…hmm…let’s just call it the dead things in oil.

Jar of makdous Jar of makdous

Our friend showed us one brand and said that we could bring them back if we didn’t like it.  I am not one to shy away from much of anything so we bought a jar and headed back to the office.  I read the label and makdous is in fact, eggplants stuffed with walnuts and spices and packed in oil.  I ate the pickles and the hummus and za’atar.  Finally, the makdous was calling to me.  I tried one…and then I had to have another…and then another.  Holy moley, makdous is awesome.  Not everyone in the office who tried the foods that day liked them, but I think that was to be expected.

Homemade tabbouleh
Not much tabbouleh left...

I went back the next day to buy another jar of makdous and my friend smiled.  He said that he and his business partner debated after we left whether our tongues would be suited to their foods.  Jar #2 sealed the deal that I was adventurous and interested.  I went in again on my favorite holiday of all (Groundhog day), and my friend called me over to the cooler.  His wife had made tabbouleh and he brought a container for me to try.  I ate the entire container for supper tonight (along with hummus and all sorts of other things).  I want to take him some uniquely American dish that he might not have had.  I suspect that we will have lots of fun sharing food and conversation!  It’s bad to have a food place right across the street though…both my tongue and my wallet may be pushed to their limits!


9 thoughts on “Makdous

  1. Andrew Zimmern would be proud of you. You have been watching too much “Bizarre Foods”. Come to think of it, you do look a lot alike. Are you related?
    It’s nice to see that you are trying different things, go for the spicy pickles next.

  2. That’s great! So glad you’ve found a new source for great food. I love middle eastern food.
    I was sure the Makdouss was pickled “mountain oysters”. It sure looks like it.

  3. I love trying new foods and love going into stores like that. However, unless they provide help like that store did, it is often hard to discern what you should buy and how to prepare it. Having a ‘translator’ is a real bonus!

    I already love tabbouleh and hummus but I’m going to have to keep my eyes open for some makdous.

  4. Welcome to the world of Middle Eastern Cuisine! I’m lucky to live in metro-Detroit and all the amazing middle eastern restaurants, shops and grocery selections. Next up: see if the shop owner has his mom’s or grandma’s falafel recipe. YUMMMM!!! Learn to make hummus yourself–Ziyad brand makes tahini paste-it’s just garbanzos, a little lemon juice, a little garlic and the tahini plus sumac on top for garnish. Enjoy!!!!
    (metro-Detroit has the highest concentration of middle easterners in the USA, just fyi)

  5. Butch struck up a conversation with our friendly Arabic store owner and he gave him several recipes. He told him about tahini in hummas and how to duplicate a salad we like at a local restaurant, fatoosh. We are also in the Metro Detroit area, PLENTY of good middle eastern food to be found. It is very fresh, always a plus for Butchy-Boy!

  6. I’m not one to try different foods like that at all so I know I wouldn’t have even tasted it. I’m not sure what kind of American food you should take him to try. Let us know what you take him and if he liked it.

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