Wael Ayyad started Kan Zaman in 2002 at the West Side Market in Cleveland. 5 years later he moved to a full restaurant and hookah bar.
Kan Zaman offers authentic Arabic cuisine - Middle Eastern food from Jordan, Palestine, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and other places. Kan Zaman was the host restaurant for this meeting of the ClevelandPeople.Com Food Adventurers passport club.
Jeanette is from Syria and works at Kan Zaman in Cleveland. She told about the Arabic cuisine appetizers that were served to members of the ClevelandPeople.Com Food Adventurers passport club. People who enjoy trying different foods and learning about different cultures participate in the Food Adventurer's group.
Debbie Hanson and Jeanette
The appetizers she explained included hummus, baba ganouj, tabouli, falafel, kibbe and salad and featured cracked wheat or bulgur, tahini, lentil soup and more.
Jeanette was asked about the difference between Indian spices and Arabic spices in cooking. She said there are many similarities such as cumin, curry, crushed red pepper, allspice, garlic powder and others.
Does Middle Eastern Food vary from country to country? Jeanette said it does.
For example, In Lebanon they love tabouli and in Syria they love bulgur and mansaf is eaten in Palestine.
Tim Ensch and Tom Sangrik
She also said that the phrase baba ghanoush translates to spoiled daddy.
A question was asked whether Greek food is considered Middle Eastern. Pierre Bejjani, from Lebanon, explained that while many countries share the Mediterranean coast and foods are similar, Greek food is not Middle Eastern. Murat Gurer from Turkey told how Turkey is a bridge between Europe and Asia.
Jeanette was asked if Western food has found its way into the 22 countries of the Middle East. She told of McDonalds and Pizza Hut in Damascus.
Mike Simic, Ingrida Bublys and Daria Puskorius
Paramjit Singh said he found no pizza in Rome in 1962 and Mona Alag said the McDonalds in India do not serve beef, which is sacred. There is no pork in the Middle Eastern restaurants.
Margaret Wong and Paramjit Singh
Speaking of Paramjit Singh...
Members of the ClevelandPeople.Com Food Adventurers passport club wished one of their members, Paramjit Singh a happy birthday with a song. Then Ken Kovach sang "many years" in Russian.
Jeanette was asked if other breads besides pita bread were popular in the Middle East.
She was also asked about the ability of people from different Middle Eastern countries to understand the Arabic language from each other.
Shiv and Saroj Aggarwal
She said there are different dialects but they can understand.
Mona and Harjit Alag
Next, the entrees were served and explained including chicken dishes, grape leaves, falafel, kibbe and more.
Susie Lohwater and Neville Robinson
A question was asked what a typical middle class Middle Eastern family meal might consist of.
Ken Kovach, Murat Gurer and Pierre Bejjani
Pierre Bejjani, from Lebanon, explained the many options such as rice, beans, lentils, chicken, lamb and more. He also spoke about smoking the hookah.
Jeanette was asked what foods a Middle Eastern family might serve for a holiday and she told of her family's dinners with stuffed meat and stuffed spinach pies.
She was also asked what shawarma is and explained that it is like a Middle Eastern gyro.
The dessert that members of the ClevelandPeople.Com Food Adventurers passport club enjoyed at Kan Zaman was harissa which is a sweet cake of coconut and semolina wheat.
Jeanette was asked about alcohol and other beverages in the Middle East.
She spoke about Arak which is like Ouzo or moonshine.
Gita Gidwani and Helen Malhotra
She also told about black tea and the Turkish coffee which leaves a residue that people use to tell fortunes.
Kan Zaman owner Wael Ayyad explained the hookah pipe smoking. A hookah or waterpipe is a single or multi-stemmed instrument for vaporizing and smoking flavored tobacco called shisha in which the vapor or smoke is passed through a water basin - often glass-based - before inhalation.
Members of the ClevelandPeople.Com Food Adventurers passport club tried the Hookah.
Do women smoke the hookah? Jeanette was asked if women smoke hookahs and she replied yes, it's the 21st century. But there are parts of the Arabic world that are not as progressive with women's rights as others.
Everyone wanted to try the hookah!
One of our fellow food adventurers Joe Meissner told about 2 amazing women of the Arab world.
Queen Zenobia, the 3rd century Queen of the Palmyrene Empire in Syria was a military genius.
Lt. Colonel Meissner also told the story of Gertrude Bell who was an English woman who became very influential in the Arab world in the early 1900s - especially with the creation of Iraq.
During a break between courses, Dan Hanson was asked about Arabic math. He has studied mathematics (BS and MS degrees in Math) and spoke about the evolution of the concept of zero through various cultures including the Babylonians, Egyptians, Chinese, Persians, Hindus and others.
He stressed how important zero is to math and the contributions of the Arabic world.
It was a great evening and adventure to the Middle East.
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