I really love the Middle East. And there are really a lot of great things about the city of Damascus. It's old (actually, the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world!) and that means it has character and culture and tradition! Street markets, locally grown produce, freshly baked bread, and all the yummy street food that we have come to know in other parts of the world... shawarma, mannekish.
The bad news? Well, I have moved from the comforts of my old home into a hotel (temporarily of course if you can call 2 months temporary). Some might think this a dream. I mean, having your bed made everyday, your laundry done for you, your bathroom organized and restocked, and of course, room service. But for a passionate kitchenista?? A nightmare. How can anyone live off room service and restaurant food for weeks on end, three meals a day? Yes, the food is excellent, and anyone who has ever visited Damascus will vouch for that. But sometimes, you just want simple, home cooked food.
So, this whole hotel thing has been difficult for me. Well, that is, until we changed rooms recently to a "residential suite." What does that mean? Well, the short version is.... wait for it..... IT HAS A KITCHEN!!! Okay, it's certainly not large, but it's a kitchen nonetheless. With 4 electric burners, 1 small oven, a fridge and a dishwasher!! Now the challenge lies in the equipment. No measuring cups, limited utensils and pots, but who cares! It's a kitchen and I can finally cook!
Now, out to the streets to pick up some food! It's a fun experience as I buy, in my broken Arabic, an assortment of fresh produce, eggs, herbs, and pantry staples. But it is so worth it! First, there is the sense of pure accomplishment at having just purchased groceries in a foreign language in a foreign country. And then there is the thought of what I can do with it! Yay! My life in Damascus has officially begun!
I decided to showcase the freshness of this produce by making something quick and simple today with ingredients that I bought of the street this morning: Quick Tomato & Egg Skillet. Once you are comfortable with this recipe, there are tons of variations you could make, by adding cubed ham, sausages, other vegetables and cheese!
Quick Tomato & Egg Skillet
1 large ripe tomato, cut into 6 wedges
1/2 large onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4-6 large eggs (depending on how hungry you are)
1 tsp Dried Oregano
1 1/2 tsp Olive oil
Salt and pepper
In a medium sized skillet (non stick is best), heat olive oil on medium heat. Add garlic, onions, tomatoes and oregano and cook for about 4 minutes, until the onions are browned and tomatoes are softened and hot. Season with a couple pinches of salt and pepper.
Spread the mixture out evenly in the pan, leaving space between the tomatoes for the eggs. Crack the eggs into spaces between the tomatoes. Place a pinch of salt on each egg yolk. Cover the pan with a lid or tin foil and let cook for about 3 minutes, until the whites of the eggs are just cooked and the egg yolks are still soft to the touch. If you prefer your eggs cooked medium or hard, cover and cook for and extra 2 to 4 minutes.
Serve and enjoy with toast.