Food really is the universal language, so, seeing as I don’t speak Arabic, I figured the best way to communicate was to cook. My Lebanese food host and cooking genie of sorts, Kamal Mouzawak, told me the talented Chef Joe Barza was doing a guest appearance at Beirut’s progressive Tawlet restaurant, so I got in on the action. I knew Chef Barza, though we had never met, because he cooked for the CIA’s Worlds of Flavor conference a few years ago.
Barza’s food is rooted in traditional Lebanese cuisine but has a modern Mediterranean touch. A testament to that is this first dish I helped with, a pesto sauce made with herbs common in Lebanese cuisine wrapped with Armenian cured meat, pastirma. Here are few of the other goodies we cooked together: