Posts Tagged ‘Foul’

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Let me be honest.  Before I left home, I was a bit nervous about the food.

To some, this may not make sense, since I am a vegetarian (who eats fish), and Middle Eastern cuisine is heavy on the veggies.  But in my mind, the food would surely consist of hummus, pitas and falafels.  And while I like those things, I have a penchant for hot food.

Judge me if you will, because I know this is a stereotype, however, most Americans, who are honest about their ignorance, would answer the same.

And while I don’t claim to be Anthony Bourdain when it comes to gastronomy, I have come to the following conclusion in my first few days here in Lebanon: beans are the great equalizer.

Let me explain.

Growing up, I was embarrassed that we ate beans in our house.  With both my parents having roots in the south, it was a very natural meal for them to serve.  But attending a school in an affluent neighborhood, at a time in my life when we were less than affluent (and the same still holds true today), with students who were more familiar with pancit than spaghetti, beans were my dirty little secret.  Beans were part of a meal my parents qualified as one that would “stick to your ribs.”  I was just glad that no one knew about them.

I carried this shame of beans into my adulthood, until I made it to my last year of college, when my scholarship money had run dry and I was too proud to ask my family for even a dime.  So after considering visiting the local soup kitchen to find my daily bread, I opted to return to the meal I knew was cheap and would “stick to my ribs:” beans.  I was finally ready to come out of the closet.  I was ready to enjoy my beans out in the open.

And now, I’ve eaten black-eyed peas from my dad, shared beans with my fellow missionaries in Mozambique, eaten my pintos with my Mac ‘n’ Cheese from the Soul Food joint down the street from my mom’s house, consumed arroz e feijao in Brazil, savored Black Beans and Rice from the Cuban place, served by the owner’s own mother and now I’ve eaten Foul (pronounced Foo-ool) for breakfast, in Lebanon.

I eat my beans with pride, knowing that the world over, rich or poor, black or white, Hispanic or Middle Eastern, beans are the great equalizer.