Andrew Hamlin 6 p.m., April 23
Here is the news: The Middle East has just conquered Europe and is making serious advances across North America.
You don’t believe me? Take a look at my belly.
On second thought, better not.
Carla and I just got through the most scrumbo take-out box of beef kebabs and whole grilled tomato and salad that I got at Ali Baba’s (Ali Baba Family Restaurant, 421 E. Main Street, El Cajon, 619-442-3622).
And -- great plus! -- a big circular wad of Middle Eastern bread that they had slapped against the side of their tandoori oven and baked while I waited, just like people were doing 5000 years ago back in, well, remember Ur, the world’s first city?
The kebabs are kinda warmly spicy (parsley helps), and that tomato, stuck on the grill and blackened, gushes out at you in a tangy, burned sort of way.
Of course, not the cheapest. It’s $9.95. But, Ali Baba’s...
...is one of the oldest, and most beautiful of the Middle Eastern eateries around here.
Just look at the decorations and tents inside the place.
Guy once told me everyone who has come originally from desert peoples loves getting back to that oasis tent-feast feeling.
Talking of feast in a tent, this group sure got it here.
While I was waiting for my take-out, Leena the server...
...took them this $50 feast for three, but big enough for all six of them, loaded with three skewers each of beef or lamb kebab, chicken kebab, and chicken tekka, plus all sorts of other goodies.
The $50 feast
Oh, and conquering Europe? Did I mention that bunch of students I found eating their “taste of Spain” at a sentimental reunion dinner after a year of foreign study over there in Madrid? Guess where they went for their "taste of Spain?" To the Kebab Shop downtown, where they ordered what they’d eaten on Madrid’s streets all year: lamb kebabs.