There’s a lot of talk about mankind and all of his failures, but why do so many things in our world work? If people haven’t asked themselves these questions, perhaps they should.

Why, when nature blows, the power out for three days, we can’t live without our TV, microwaves, computer, we don’t consider what absolute horror is—living in the Middle Ages without hair conditioner.  We get angry at traffic jams and long lines at the grocery store. However, would we rather be trying to find a nut and berry out in the bog?

Never in the history of the world has mankind ever stopped and patted himself on the back and said, “Good job. You never gave up.”

Answer me this. Isn’t it time we started to have pride, and shouldn’t we be proud of our neighbors like Bev and Elias Meiki?   Elias is from Lebanon, where Kahill Gibran, the author of “The Prophet,” was born (another amazing human). Elias has been in America for 13 years and is doing what humans do best—trying.

Bon d’ Elle is a line of gourmet foods that the couple has owned and operated since 1987. After many years of hard work, they were able to design and build a commercial kitchen in their home.

The kitchen stocked like a miniature Middle Eastern Costco, with pounds of peeled garlic, small towers of sea salt, cases of frozen lemon juice, and bags of garbanzo beans.

Elias and his family are taking a gamble that the food that he ate 10,714 miles away in his hometown will find its way onto our dinner table and that we will relish it as much as he did when he was a boy.

His mom would serve the roasted richness of Baba Gannoj and the exquisite tang of Tahini sauce mixed with molasses and used as a dip with pita bread.
“Were these the traditional foods your mother cooked for you when you were little?” I asked Elias as we all seated ourselves in the comfortable living room of their home.

“The same food that made me homesick. I was 32 years old when I came to America. I was very lonely and very hungry for my home food, so I learned to cook myself,” he explained as he brushed his dark hair from his forehead. “Our table at home was always laden with lots of vegetables, cheese, beans, and beer.”

“Little boys drink beer?” I questioned mischievously. Elias looked at Bev. She was standing at the large picture window watching their two small children playing in the front yard. Then, pointing to his wife, Elias asked Bev to get the Arak.

‘In Lebanon,” continued Elias, ‘There are no age restrictions, and children never abuse alcohol.”

Bev returned with a bottle with a lot of Arabic writing on the label. “You must try our national drink, Arak; it is 100 proof!” Elias chuckled.
I asked if it had been a dream to come to America and open his business. Elias grinned and smiled at Beverly. “I had no plan to fall in love with an American citizen.” He smiled.

He took a deep breath, his voice touched with an accent, and spoke softly and very slowly. “I lived in Lebanon for 30 years and two years in France when I followed my younger brother to here. Bev and I met at the print shop where we both worked. I would bring my dinner, and all the other employees always teased me about the unique and different foods I brought to work. But Bev found them very interesting, and soon I brought a little extra to share.”

Bev shared that she often helped Elias figure out the right spices to use in his dishes during their courtship. She was translating English by the smell and touch of the spices.

After marriage and children, they started contemplating a business out of their home. “We believe in a close family,” Elias said confidently as he led the way downstairs toward their commercial kitchen.

“This is where we make our Bon d’Elie frozen food products,” Elias said, ushering me toward an enormous wok (big enough to sit in).  “Our most popular product is our Garlic Sesame Tahini sauce which has many uses.”

“Here is a taste,” Bev said as she came over with a spoon.

“Garlicky,’ I smiled.

Just before I left, Elias looked around at his clean, bright, fresh-smelling kitchen. He saw the refrigerator and brought out their newest product, Falafel, which is not a dip but can be shaped like a patty, fried, or baked in a muffin pan. It is rolled on top of pita bread like a sandwich, with or without tomatoes and lettuce.  “For you,” Elias said as he generously offered me samples of all his product lines.

As my car pulled out of the driveway, I thought how thankful I was that someone rolled up their sleeves and invented the freezer and all the other goodies of modern life that our ancestors had made a stab out of trying something else one day instead of the same old nut and berry.

If you are a garlic lover, you will most certainly enjoy Lebanese food. Here is a dish Bev serves her family often. Eaten hot or cold it is called;
12-16 oz Frozen green beans
20 oz can chopped tomatoes plus three large ripe, peeled, and sliced tomatoes
One whole head of garlic with each clove peeled
One large onion
One tablespoon olive oil
½ tablespoon tomato paste
One cup water
Chop onion and brown in olive oil until clear. Add all of the garlic–brown together. Add frozen green beans. Stir until soft and done. Add tomatoes. Salt to taste. Cook 10 minutes. Add tomato paste and water. Let simmer on medium. Add more paste or water as needed.

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