If there is one common denominator to all Lebanese it is their propensity to discuss politics. The taxi driver, the baker, the pharmacist, the grocer and everyone else has definite opinions and feels knowledgeable about the topic.
Yesterday, I was at the grocer’s shop down the street; his shop is about the size of my bathroom in Dallas. When I ask for an item, he grabs a pole with a hook and it tumbles down to the floor; the item then gets dusted and stuffed in a black plastic bag by his helper.
” Guess what (a leading politician) is planning” says the mini-grocer to his buddy.
” Demonstrations, to get the people of Beirut involved!”
“Well, tell him he will be the first one and the last one to show up” retorts the buddy, sitting on a cane chair next to him.
” Nobody cares about him around here!”
Politics is what people discuss in the street. For hours. In the US, discussing politics is not socially appropriate. Not so in Lebanon.
In Beirut, you will hear different opinions depending on the neighborhood you happen to be located in at the moment. Politics permeate people’s daily lives.
Well, not to change the subject, but these pistachio shortbread rings called ghraybeh are traditional Lebanese shortbread cookies; they come in a plain version or a pistachio version.
For a plain version, click here.
- 2 cups of flour
- 1/3 cup of cornstarch
- 2 cups of peeled and chopped pistachios
- 3/4 cup of powdered sugar
- a teaspoon of vanilla sugar (substitute vanilla extract)
- 1 cup of unsalted butter, very soft
- Cream the butter in a mixer for a few minutes until all smooth; add the sugar gradually. Add the vanilla sugar or extract.
- Add the flour and cornstarch mixture to the sugar and butter mixture, gradually as well. Mix well for one minute and when the dough is formed and is shiny and firm (add a bit more flour if it is too wet, one tablespoon at a time), add the chopped pistachios and mix well throughout; cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rest in a cool place or the fridge for one hour.
- Take lumps of dough with a cookie scoop and form little sticks of about 5 inches in length; join them at both ends and set on a parchment-lined cookie sheet; dab a tiny bit of chopped pistachios on the cookie ring if desired. Bake in a preheated 325F oven till the cookie is firm, for about 15 minutes. It will firm up more as it cools. The bottom of the cookies will be golden and the top whitish. Cool and serve or keep in a tin box for several days and up to one week or so.
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