Sunday, January 31, 2010

Lebanese Celebration

Anyone at all familiar with the Lebanese culture knows that it's family oriented; has healthy, delicious foods; and colorful, exotic belly dancing.

Cafe Lebanon in Springfield, Massachusetts, is a perfect place to experience all of the above. The front part of the restaurant has plenty of huge glass windows looking out onto the main street but the back room is better. Its walls are covered with murals depicting scenes from the Mediterranean. Why not view camels and people from that terrain while enjoying food known to the culture?

We started out a recent evening at Cafe Lebanon with delicious tabbouleh, a salad of finely chopped parsley, mint, bulgar (cracked wheat), and tasty spices. It came along with hummus, a smooth chick pea combination, and baskets of pita bread. Some fried cauliflower with tahini (a tasty sesame sauce used in hummus) was lip-smacking, too. A lentil dish came with crispy fried onion slivers on top and was great. Of course there was a luscious fatoush salad comprised of fresh greens, tomatoes, radishes, red onions, and crispy pita bread chunks.

By the time the main entree came, everyone was already well satisfied. The platters of chicken, steak, and a hamburger-type concoction were definitely not picked clean. There was plenty of doggy bagging. The pieces of steak were medium rare, perfectly flavored, and tender.

As if the dinner were not enough, the evening's belly dancer swirled and whirled around the table, smiling and drawing everyone's attention. Her sparkling costumes glittered in the night as she circled the table to the Lebanese music in the background.

She had two costume changes and both were quite gorgeous. Her scarves, which she whipped through the air, were splashed with color, including sizzling red. Her hips and arms moved with grace. Belly dancing is quite sensuous and feminine. It is also very tastefully done and gives one an appreciation for a different culture.

At a couple of points some of our dinner party group got up to join the dancer, much to everyone's total delight.

Following the dinner and dancing at Cafe Lebanon, out came platters of desserts that would make dieters want to run for the door. There was "baklava," thin filo dough fillled with nuts and covered in a sweet syrup; a ricotta cheese dish called "ismalia" which is topped with rose syrup; and a very delicious rice pudding in a fried shell! Of course, dark and delicious coffee was the final touch to the evening.

If you want a very special night out, check out Middle Eastern restaurants in your area and step into another culture. Be sure to ask about the belly dancing!

Have you seen a performance of belly dancing?


diane stetson said...

Wish I could have joined you. Yes we have a belly dancer at a restaurant here but it is GREEK....I've seen the dancing and it is fabulous...I love Lebanese food..I hope you gave Jimmy my best regards!

Chatty Crone said...

Oh my gosh - my very favorite food - one friend in our neighborhood is Lebanonese and owns a restaurant that we go to all the time. She has had some family gatherings that we have been invited too with belly dancers. You're right very family orientated and wonderful people.


Susan Wicker said...

Hi Di....Glad you stopped by. Yes, belly dancing is, indeed, great fun. Have a nice Sunday. Always, Susan

Susan Wicker said...

Hi Sandie! Oh, you love Lebanese food, too? It's great, isn' it? And most of it, save the desserts, is quite good for us (in moderation, of course).Sandie, thanks so much for your visit and comment. Always great to hear from you. Sincerely, Susan from

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