Breakfast on a weekend in the Middle East is a tasty communal fiesta. Families gather on Friday morning around a large tray of special weekend treats that fill the house with delicious aromas. Most of the Middle East, with the exception of Lebanon, enjoy their weekends on Fridays and Saturdays. So, a big breakfast is a must on a late Friday morning.
If you’re thinking of bringing the Middle Eastern breakfast experience into your own home, here are a few tips on how to set it all up.
Create an Inviting Table Setting
Start with a lovely hand-embroidered tablecloth. That’s the backdrop of your special morning meal. The table covers in today’s food illustrations are inspired by the Aghabani tablecloths. These are handmade in Syria and commonly sold in the Hamidiya souk in Old Damascus. Made from cotton, these covers often come in earthy or indigo colours, while the stitching is made by hand using a thread called Qasab or Asab. The latter is a gold-tinted thread that used to be associated with status back when my grandmother was a child.
It’s now time to use those colourful handmade Moroccan, Tunisian, or Middle Eastern dishes you’ve been hiding for a special occasion. You can also create a table arrangement using your beautiful Anthropologie serveware. Just remember that more colour whets the appetite!
The Middle Eastern Breakfast: So Many Versions to Choose From!
Today’s illustrations focus on a few basic ingredients to set up a small Middle Eastern breakfast. In this food drama, you have the heroes of the show, and the supporting roles. The heroes include fried eggs, Hummus and Falafel. The supporting dishes in my illustration are Zait and Za’atar (olive oil and thyme), Jordanian-style Labneh balls (strained yoghurt), and green olives in oil. These are all served with mint-flavoured tea, and pita bread.
To make a more elaborate breakfast you can always add:
Fool Mdammas (aka Fool Medames in the Egyptian dialect).
Ka’ak (large ring-shaped or elongated-oval bread sprinkled with sesame seeds).
And Magdoos or Makdous (pickled aubergine stuffed with walnut, chilli flakes and garlic, and stacked in oil to preserve it).
Make sure to serve a side dish of fresh tomato slices, scallions, mint leaves, and radishes, to add freshness to each bite.
Food illustration, editorial illustration by illustrator and artist Yaansoon