Sunday, March 18, 2007

Le Hammourabi

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


Hellmut said...

The lamb looks delicious. If you keep posting such delicious pictures then it's your own fault when my family will move in with you during the summer.

Freckle Face Girl said...

My mouth is watering! I love Lebanese food. Sounds like a great experience.

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Hellmut and Freckle Face Girl!!!

Yeah, it was good stuff. Next time any of you are in Bordeaux, I'll take you there. :D

Anonymous said...

The best Lebanese restaurants I have ever been to have both been in France. There's one nearby (in Mulhouse) that I love, and there's one in Paris right by my friend's flat that I also love. The food is sooo good.

I'll have to get to Bordeaux one of these days, especially since my favorite white wines are from that area. Mmmm again.

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Wry!!!

That would be excellent -- you should visit one of these days!!! :D

Anonymous said...

Interesting. The only ethic foods I can get here are Italian, Mexican, and of course, Pennsylvania Dutch.

Must be nice to live in a place where you can experience stuff like that.

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Sinister Porpoise!!!

Yeah, I love living in the city. I think I've talked to you about city vs. small town before... ;-)

Anonymous said...

I forgot Chinese. There are advantages to living in either place, but on the whole I don't think I'd want to live outside of the U.S., even though I'm thinking about starting to plan to get out of this particular area.

And of course, I'd probably not to want to live someplace where it was impossible to find Pennsylvania Dutch food although the recipes are easy enough to get.

Rachel Starr Thomson said...

Hey... I came across your blog because I wrote a book on the Lord's Prayer and get alerts whenever someone blogs anything about it. That Aramaic translation fascinates me... and the food looks incredible!

Just wanted to say that I enjoyed your post :).


C. L. Hanson said...

Thanks Rachel!!!

I imagine that the situation is that Jesus (if he existed) would have spoken Aramaic, but no originals exist in that language so -- as you say -- this is a translation.

Texas said...

Awesome Chanson!!!

I would love to eat at that place. I am very interested in ancient Sumerian religion. What a great experience!

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Johnny!!!

Well, come to France then!!! ;-)

It was fascinating. Of course I asked the proprietor about the Epic of Gilgamesh, and he recounted that they traditionally have Gilgamesh-related pageants for one of their summer holidays.