Virginia Barton

26 October 2018: The Lure of the Levant

26 October 2018



Naturally greedy, the idea of making my own Lebanese dishes led me to purchase a small tagine. Not one of those striped jobbies but a business-like, perfectly plain terracotta crock some 12 inches in diameter; priced at only £12.95. (It will be more after Brexit … everything will be more after Brexit, including Remorse…)

The elegant shape, reminiscent of the mysterious East, conjured up scents of gently cooking lamb shanks, delicately flavoured with ras al hanout, apricots and lemons.

I got it home with some difficulty; but alas and alack, once on the cooker I had to admit I couldn’t manage it! Even the beautifully tapered lid was far too heavy. A classic example of the eye being bigger than.

Some lucky grandchild will get it for Christmas complete with essential ingredients tucked inside: a jar of harissa paste, spices, garlic and a lemon.

While I revert to my old sauté pan with lid.


Anyone got some good recipes apart from lamb shanks? A vegetarian one would be handy as so many people are. Or a fashionable vegan offering?


I have become an habitué of Comptoir Libanais canteen where I am steadily ruining my digestive system not so much from what I eat, but volume. Greed is a deadly sin; its opposite is temperance.

The Temperance Society, of which my great aunt was a keen member and had a medal to prove it, warned of the devilish drink, and tried to persuade folk to abstain — which was when you qualified for the medal.

As far as I know there is no such Society warning of the dangers of excessive eating. A looking-glass is a good substitute, wouldn’t you agree?






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