Do you ever have one of those memories where all your senses are captured? I have a tabouli memory like that! I was a teenager spending a few days with my BFF at her grandmother’s home in a mountain village in Lebanon, as we were in the habit of doing during the summer. We were there in Magdouche in August for the National Holiday of Eid Al Saydeh, Feast of the Assumption, which also coincided with grape harvest season.
Today, I can still smell the sharp tang of parsley and mint as we picked the leaves and collected them in a flat basket to chop later. I taste the sweet/sour balance of freshly squeezed lemon juice mixed with the peppery flora of home-pressed olive oil. I see the pungent green onions being chopped and tossed with the bright crimson tomatoes looking like a bouquet of red rosebuds nestled in all that herbal greenery. And serenading our gossipy chatter was the voice of Tom Jones crooning the top tunes of that summer from a mini portable forty-five record player. We were making tabouli perched cross-legged outside on a straw mat under the grape arbor. We had already washed a huge cluster of grapes in cool water from the over-sized clay water storage containers and were nibbling on them while busy at “work!”
Tabouli is the Lebanese national salad for a good reason; it combines the freshest of summer ingredients into a perfectly balanced hearty salad. The best way to eat tabouli is by using lettuce or tender grape leaves as scoops to pop right into your mouth, feeding each other the choicest bites, as best friends do.
Isn’t that just how precious memories are? You don’t tell yourself at the time, “I have to remember this!” You just do, because it captures the best of you, doing your very best, with the very best of your people!
Close your eyes. Where are you in your most tasteful memory?
1/2 cup bulgur (cracked wheat) softened in hot water, drain
1 bunch chopped green onions
1 lb chopped tomatoes
6 cups packed finely chopped flat leaf parsley
2 cups finely chopped spearmint
1 cup olive oil
3/4 cup lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste