Here is what I’d do if I had no Lebanese or Armenian butcher nearby who could make these delicious sausages. I’d simply get another, similar, type of sausage and fix them the Lebanese way: Fried or grilled and drizzled with a touch of pomegranate molasses.
These tiny sausages called makanek are made with lamb or beef or a combo and are spicy without being hot; they are redolent of clove, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, black and white pepper, and lots of other spices to the butcher’s discretion. A friend in Beirut makes these with ground meat and lots of spices, but not in a sausage shape, more like a hash. I found them at my neighborhood Middle-Eastern store in Dallas (which has a butcher shop as well). Unfortunately, not as addictive as the ones I can get in Beirut from our trusted butcher.
This is Mr. Kibbeh, owner of a famous hole-in-the-wall eatery in Beirut; when we walked in and my friend told him that I was from America, he pointed to a couple of CNN write-ups (Best Breakfast in the world) pasted on his walls. A delightful man in his early sixties, he had been in the business for 51 years and, as he told me, still enjoys it! Both his father and grandfather had been fawwals, the word given to those who specialise in making ful, that traditional fava bean soup; they operated in the street downtown, but he had to relocate during the Civil War and had been in this part of town for decades, in a mortar and brick shop. He told us he’d been offered to open a franchise in Dubai, but turned it down, as he was not willing to lose his freedom. His lifestyle suited him, he’d open for business at 6 AM and close at 1PM, heading to the mountains, every day.
As soon as we sat down, plates of olives, fresh mint sprigs, sliced tomatoes, onions, pickled turnips and pita bread were offered. We felt like we were back in the old Beirut, where one could eat the most delicious foods for a song, served by folks who had a smile on their face and a genuine warmth, making us feel so welcome.
We were happy and quickly satiated with the vegetarian offerings, like the hummus fatteh, the ful mudammas, and the eggplant dip; we turned down the sweetbreads and lamb offals that the shop is famous for. I told the owner with sincerity, “if I could write poetry, I’d write a poem about your food”, which put a wide grin on his face.