In the Arab world, sharing is caring, especially when it comes to food. Mezze, or small share plates, are the norm at many meals, and the act of lacing the table with little dishes creates a sense of ceremony and community that I love. Breakfast is no different, and I find the variety of tastes and textures such an inspiring way to start the day.
The roster rotates – sometimes there’s foul mdammas (hot fava beans with olive oil), other times fattet hommus (warm chick peas with yogurt and toasted bread), or classic pureed hommus. Occasionally I’ll fry up a few eggs with tangy sumac sprinkled on top, or have something sweet like apricot jam or dates with white cheese. Today I even added in some spicy chicken kofta with ginger, coriander and turmeric.
Whatever the mood, there are a few constants, and though I try to avoid making generalizations (was that a generalization?), I’d say many other families have these same staples at the ready. They are, in no particular order:
- Arabic bread (pita), always sliced into triangles (with scissors, mind you)
- Za’atar of some kind (either with oil, or on labneh, or on bread, or all three)
- Fresh cucumber and tomatoes. I always add dried mint to the tomatoes.
- Olive oil. Extra virgin. On everything!
Tea is another important element in an Arabic breakfast spread. Black tea with fresh mint and sugar is very common, and an excellent digestive. Brew a pot of black tea as normal, and add in a big handful of fresh mint leaves and stems. Let it all infuse for a few minutes, then swirl together with a petite spoon of sugar in each cup.
But of course, the most important ingredient in a proper Arabic breakfast is… good company.