Across from the Jean-Talon Market (you could throw things at Hamel) stand the Syrian restaurants Alep (more formal) and Petit-Alep (less formal, same kitchen). We’ve lived in Montreal for almost 5 years now and in our current place for almost two, and just made it there for the first time Thursday night to celebrate Carrie sending her book ms. back out.
Anyway, the food was amazing. Syrian is like Lebanese (many similar dishes and names, though a few different ones) but I would say the spicing is somehow more elaborate. For instance, the muhammara was an almost shocking red and had an intense spicy-sour flavor that was very striking. The grape leaves also tasted different than I’m used to in a very good way. They also have a few house teas that are delicious (some of which don’t actually use any tea). We’d commented to our waitress that we felt like fools for not finding it sooner, and she said “that happens to us all that time. We’ve been here for over 30 years.”
 We are fond of celebrating getting manuscripts out of the house, and not just acceptances and publications. Why not have more occasions to celebrate, more incentives to get things done? Might as well celebrate as much as possible: academic life is an experience of small, incremental achievements, apart from a few major milestones like the PhD and tenure, which many experience as anticlimactic, anyway.
I bet the redness and spicy-sour flavor of the muhammara was shaped by sumac. The Iranians use a ton of it. I think the Lebanese do for some things as well, though not as widely.
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