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the best tabbouleh recipe

One of those blessed days, rare in a busy life – no obligations, no company, nothing but the sun, the garden, my own little life to tend to. Anna and the boys are still away, Sam is busy and happy on the other side of town, and what I have to do today is fiddle and potter and dither and tidy and edit and, of course, spend just a tiny bit of time right here, plunging into the internet.

Last night, Bill Maher’s show, one of the best ever – his guests Salman Rushdie and Fran Lebowitz and later Tim Gunn. Lebowitz, so dry and witty, has no time for Bernie Sanders. “He left New York when he was eighteen!” she said. “Can you imagine being eighteen in New York and saying, no, can’t cope with this, and leaving for (she shuddered) Vermont?” She looks like a wise, wizened older lady with badly dyed hair, and I was horrified, after Googling, to discover that she’s a few months younger than I am.

This morning I rode to the market fairly early, to find the Mennonite farm butchers were not crowded; they’re often overwhelmed with people. They raise their animals without hormones or chemicals, free range, in pens not giant barns, so that’s where I try to buy my meat. Though I want to become a vegetarian and try as often as possible to eat meals without meat, I’m not there yet, and today I stocked up on my favourite, pork, most for the freezer – a roast, back bacon, ground for spaghetti sauce, chops, tenderloin. Thank you, brother pig, for the pleasure you will give for weeks to come.

And then both peaches and apples – O happy day, when we can buy both peaches from summer and apples from autumn, the first tart, juicy Macs; raspberries, blueberries, zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, new red potatoes, happiness. A heavy load on the back on the uphill ride home.

And so to work – today is cooking day, though I’m working also, editing students for So True, which is almost full already, more than a month early, and of course my own stuff. Just listened to Sheila Rogers while making gazpacho – still using up cukes – then spaghetti sauce, ratatouille, tabbouleh. A tomato based diet this week.

The tabbouleh recipe was given to me by my friend Isabelle in France in 1979. I have made it endless times – it’s perfect for pot lucks, for example, particularly as I have so much mint taking over the garden, which is why I made it again today. I realized that the recipe is falling apart.

So I typed it up in my own translated version, and am sharing it with you today. Invaluable. I hope it’s useful to you.

Isabelle’s Tabbouleh
Prepare 2 hours in advance, for 6 people.
200 grams couscous – 1¼ cups
500 g. tomatoes – approx. 16 oz or 1 lb.
a small onion
a bunch parsley
a bigger bunch mint
6 tablespoons peanut oil (maybe less)
juice of 1 lemon (maybe less, maybe
a bit more)
salt, pepper
In a food processor, chop the onion, tomatoes, parsley and mint. In large bowl, mix the couscous with the
tomato mixture plus the lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper. Mix well, cover and put in the fridge, stirring
from time to time. Add a bit of tomato juice if it’s too dry. 

C’est tout. Isabelle says to add mussels, if you want. 

There’s a load of laundry drying in the sun, things on the stove, the humming of the fridge and the silence of the city. The tapping of fingers. The gratefulness in my heart. This week, I realized that through the years, I have emailed our beloved family doctor, mine, Anna’s and Sam’s –  her clinic has a website through which it’s possible to reach her by email – with various complaints. So yesterday, I sent her an email, the headline “Nothing’s wrong.” “We are all well,” I wrote, to say that right now, for once, there’s nothing to ask or tell her.  

Right now, this minute at dusk on this sweet Saturday in September, nothing is wrong. Except with our dear battered world.

Also discovered my mother’s famous recipe for cheesecake, that I have not made for years. Let me know if you’d like me to send it to you.

P.S. Last night, at Madison Square Gardens, Macca had a special guest – Bruce Springsteen. They sang “When I saw her standing there” together. So sorry to have missed that.



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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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