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The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree


So we have been here for about a week – and I have already found a place to buy candied chickpeas!

Lucky for us, there is a Middle Eastern grocer about 5 minutes away from our home and, though it’s relatively small, it carries everything I would have wanted to find. Besides the candied chickpeas, I was hoping to find some Pomegranate molasses (and I did!). The Lebanese use this a lot in their cooking and I’ve been meaning to try it out because the few times that I have tried it, it was just so good. My mother in law makes particularly good use of this stuff and I’m hoping to follow in her footsteps. Once I’ve had a chance to try a few recipes with this little secret weapon, I will report back.  Expect greatness.

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J and I found ourselves feeling particularly at home in this shop and as a result we bought a lot of items simply because they were comfort foods, and not because we had any particular craving for them (though they will not be going to waste, I can tell you that). Its amazing how just having certain items in your fridge can make your little abode feel like that much more of a home. Here is a list of what we came back with:

  • Labneh: a soft Lebanese cheese made by straining yogurt
  • Pickled turnips (or in Arabic “lift”): you might have had these in a shawarma sandwich
  • Macedonian feta cheese: this is what my dad always has in the fridge at home.  J and I are hoping that the kind we bought will be just as good
  • Za’atar: a mixture made up of thyme, sesame seeds and sumac.  It can be used as a seasoning or can also be eaten with lebneh.
  • Mango juice: reminds me so much of my visits to Egypt
  • Halawa: a sweet crumbly spread usually eaten with bread at breakfast time but it can be eaten in a variety of ways any time of the day
  • Candied chickpeas: these were not freshly made in-store as they are in the roastery in Ottawa and as a result they are quite expensive here!

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The funniest part about this list is that the majority of these items are not ones we are accustomed to buying.  They are tastes and flavours which we are usually fed when visiting family, or which our parents will just pick up for us when they go to the Middle Eastern grocery store. In fact, save for the chick peas, this is probably the first time I have ever purchased any of these items for myself.

The outing was special to us though.  Though the Middle Eastern grocery store is not a regular stop for us in Ottawa, we naturally gravitated towards it here.  I think it might be because we both have an unspoken desire and need to preserve our cultures and  to integrate them into our new home.  When we live close to family, we really don’t need to put any effort into this.  Now that we are further away, it seems to have happened organically.

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How do you decide what city (town) to live in?


I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how one goes about choosing where to live.  Perhaps this is because I have been moving around a lot in the last few years, and I am preparing for another move in a few months.  Now that I’ve lived in a few different cities (Toronto, Ottawa, Barcelona, Nice, Cape Town) and have experienced different lifestyles, I’ve realised that some lifestyles and cities work better for me than others.  Although I always thought I would end up in the city where I grew up (Toronto), now I’m not so sure about that anymore.  How does one go about making the decision about where to live? I mean, other than the obvious factors such as family/friends and jobs, what other factors can help guide this decision? Should we just decide to live where life takes us? Or should this decision be a more intentional one?  Even if one decides to live “where life takes you”, one is still often faced with the choice of what neighbourhood/suburb or type of home to dwell in.  So, keeping this in mind, what factors can we use to make such a choice? Again, you can choose to go with obvious factors such as what you like and what fits within your budget, but what I’m trying to get at, is that I think the decision involves a little more than that..


In fact, more and more, I’m starting to believe that one’s core values should really play a (big) part in this decision.  The more I think and read about this question, the more I am drawn to the conclusion that where you live should reflect your values and priorities (as much as possible anyway).  I also note that my internet search revealed that Ottawa is the best city to live in (in Canada), and Halifax is the second best (at least as of 2008: http://howtoliveincanada.com/best-places-to-live-in-canada/)! I guess that means we must be doing something right.  But I digress.

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