Sunday, March 18, 2007
Continuing in my series on ethnic curiosities of Bordeaux, this past week I had lunch at the restaurant Hammourabi!!!
I had to try this place out because I was intrigued by the idea of a Sumerian-themed restaurant. It originally had a sign written in cuneiform, which really made me curious about the place. Now the sign is partially written in Aramaic:
Both this photo and the one at the top were taken from inside the restaurant looking out -- I inverted this photo so you can read it more easily.
It turns out that the proprietor is a Syrian (Eastern Orthodox) Christian, and very interested in the culture of his native region. He showed me a sheepskin document he had written (a wall-hanging in the restaurant) and explained that it was the Lord's prayer which he had written himself in Aramaic, pointing out that that was the actual language spoken by Jesus (unlike every other Christian sect, who all read Jesus in translation...):
The culture is apparently a direct continuation of the Mesopotamian civilization, which has the oldest known recorded history. Hammurabi was the king at the time of the first written code of laws.
I brought along my husband and a colleague of his (a mathematician visiting from Lebanon) to have lunch at the restaurant. Now I know you're probably thinking "Great, Chanson, he's visiting from Lebanon, and you immediately think to take him to a Syrian-Lebanese restaurant..." But the thing is that he's visiting France for a full month, and I'm sure all of the other French mathematicians will be proudly taking him to places where he can sample the local (French) cuisine, so he was willing to try this out. It was fun because he was able to describe and recommend some dishes, and explained that region of Syria that the restaurant owners are from is particularly famous for its cuisine (Aleppo).
Here are some tasty stuffed grape leaves, with some Sumerian art in the background for atmosphere. It also turned out that the Lebanese wine that was featured at the restaurant was made by some sort of relative of our Lebanese friend.
This is Makdoos which I had as an appetizer, and below is what I chose as a main course, Kibbe Labniyye.
I'm not really a restaurant critic, so I can't describe the food in detail, but it was quite delicious, and a fun cultural and educational experience!!! :D