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 Passport Program - Cleveland Food Adventurers

ClevelandPeople.Com Food Adventurers Passport
Kan Zaman Authentic Arabic Cuisine
Tuesday February 25, 2014


welcome to Kan Zaman


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.

Wael Ayyad

Wael Ayyad


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

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.

Passport group


For example, In Lebanon they love tabouli and in Syria they love bulgur and mansaf is eaten in Palestine.

Tim Ensch and Tom Sangrik

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.

with Ingrida Bublys and

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

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.

Kan Zaman decor


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

Shiv and Saroj Aggarwal


She said there are different dialects but they can understand.



Mona and Harjit Alag

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

Susie Lohwater and Neville Robinson




Kan Zaman decor


A question was asked what a typical middle class Middle Eastern family meal might consist of.

Ken Kovach, Murat Gurer and Pierre Bejjani

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.

Bimlaji Malhotra

Bimlaji Malhotra



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.

Cleveland Food adventurer passport attendee


She spoke about Arak which is like Ouzo or moonshine.

Gita Gidwani and Helen Malhotra

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.

Wael Ayyad with hookah

Wael Ayyad



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!

Pat Hanson smoking a hookah

Pat Hanson


Kathleen Debernardi smoking a hookah

Kathleen Debernardi


Mona Alag smoking a hookah

Mona Alag


Nancy Loren smoking a hookah

Nancy Loren


Joe Meissner smoking a hookah

Joe Meissner


Debbie Hanson  smoking a hookah

Debbie Hanson


Saroj Aggarwal smoking a hookah

Saroj Aggarwal


Cheryl Lydic smoking a hookah

Cheryl Lydic


Maureen Pucell smoking a hookah

Maureen Pucell


Dan Hanson  smoking a hookah

Dan Hanson

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.

Joe Meissner speaking

Joe Meissner



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.

Dan Hanson speaking

Dan Hanson


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.

Camel at Kan Zaman


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