Fool? Not you. Nor me, either, though some would contest that assertion, I suspect. So, fool? What are we talking here? Actually, the word applies to a dish of Mediterranean-Middle Eastern origin, and while phonetically, it is pronounced as spelled above, it is spelled fūl, and often called fūl medames.
“Fūl is a very famous dish all over the Middle East; Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Israel, all over that part of the world,” says Andy Hajjar, owner-operator of Kabobske. “It’s fava beans combined with garbanzo beans, and cooked with garlic, onion, parsley, spices and herbs, and it is delicious. People (in that part of the world) eat this dish for breakfast and for lunch, because it is very filling and very tasty too.”
Agreed. We enjoyed fūl medames for breakfast at Kabobske on Short Vine in Corryville recently, and it was both filling and delicious. The dish is a stew of fava beans, according to the recipe, and that is an apt description. We sat with Andy himself (doing our best to social distance) and took lessons from him on how to eat the dish in the way of people in the Middle East. We used torn-off pieces of pita bread to form shovel or scoop shapes, digging into our bowls of the fūl thusly.
Turns out, fūl medames has been a staple for a long while where fava beans are grown, dating back to the late Neolithic (as is Stone Age) period in today’s Egypt. In fact, the cooking method for the dish is mentioned in the Talmud Yerushalmi, where it is said that this classic staple was popular from the Horn of Africa to the borders of Eastern Europe.
However long it has been on the Middle East’s menu, Andy claims it for his menu and says Jewish diners-out will find the dish only in his restaurant. “I am not being arrogant here, but only stating the fact that we have this dish, and we have the best, the freshest and best quality of Mediterranean food in Cincinnati or anywhere around here. And for the price, you cannot beat the price. And my fūl, it is so delicious; the taste is just like you would have it in my homeland (Lebanon) and all through that region, including Israel too,” he contended.
At this same breakfast or brunch meal, we enjoyed two types of Mediterranean pizza, some baba ghanoush and two types of hummus, plain and carrot infused. First, the “pizzas,” which have an 8-inch diameter pita as a base. One of these flatbread treats is deeply Middle Eastern in taste, featuring a zaatar mix of thyme, sesame seeds, tomato bits, onion, and other herbs, in a mix of olive oil. Andy put the ingredients together while we watched, making it at the time of order, so, fresh as can be. The slurry of ingredients is spread over the pita, and then the patron is free to add toppings. We added sliced black olives and parsley. After a trip to the oven, the pizza comes out crunchy and tasty. The other flatbread was a flavorful combo of feta and mozzarella cheeses, a dusting of spices from Andy’s magic shaker, and a sprinkle of parsley. I enjoyed pieces of both pizzas and favored the cheese version. But the intriguing thing about these items is that the patron has choices and can add the toppings desired.
“The key to everything here is that it is fresh, and that we make the sauces and all the rest from scratch,” he said. He went on to say that healthy eating requires fresh, wholesome foods that are not loaded down with preservatives or prepared in distant commissaries and transported to outlet stores. He pointed to his tahini sauce as an example. “We make three kinds here, the regular tahini sauce, then one that is a bit spicier and a third one that is spicier than that. So, you have a lot of choices.”
So too for the hummus, which is available in various flavors. “The hummus, we make it; we have five kinds of hummus, including beet hummus, which is very good (he’s right, delicious!), buffalo hummus and olive hummus. Nobody has these but us,” Hajjar said. The hummus and baba ghanoush nicely complimented the other foods at our table, scooped with the pita bread and enjoyed in the Middle Eastern style.
While we were enjoying brunch, the Kabobske crew was preparing the eatery’s food truck for a trip to Homarama. “We are at Homarama now with the food truck. We have the truck and a trailer so we can do on-site catering at two locations. We have had really good success with our truck at Homarama and other places,” Andy said.
See you at Kabobske on Short Vine, or at one of its on-site food trucks!
2904 Short Vine Street
Cincinnati, OH 45219