Here I am with my Father, who is the eldest of six boys. Born in West Africa to Lebanese parents, he spent his childhood in French boarding school, his teen youth years in Lebanon and his older teen years back in West Africa. Dad emmigrated to Australia in the late 60's, met my mum in Sydney, got married and set about building a future for his family in the Southern suburbs of Sydney.
Dad and mum are still married. Dad loves pottering about in his verdant vegetable garden and enjoying sunny afternoons on the balcony of their cottage overlooking the Tasman Sea. His favorite topic of conversation with me is still food. Whenever I speak to him on the phone he is bursting with news about his garden vegetables and his plans for pickles and chillies and recipes.
Hi, I'm Rita, I'm a forty-something wife and mum running my cooking workshops in Newcastle and the beautiful Hunter Valley Wine Country which is a couple of hours north of Sydney NSW.
Dad taught me to cook from a young age, but he wasn't my only teacher. Some of my most vivid childhood memories are food related - being at an aunt and uncles home with cousins flying everywhere (my dad is one of 6 brothers so we have a LARGE extended family!). Being in the kitchen with my mother and aunts preparing, cleaning, given a task such as peeling garlic for Toum or threading cubes of meat onto skewers ready for the BBQ or juicing lemons for the Tabouleh, or washing dishes; learning by watching and listening about balance, seasoning and flavors in food as well as in life.
In my family and my extended family's families, the kitchen is the heart of the home. Food is the language that I use to care for the people I love, and although my father never taught me how to speak Arabic, he did give me the gift of the language of food.
I created My Father's Table because I have so often been asked by friends to share recipes and food from my Middle Eastern heritage. Sometimes I will add authentic, traditional family recipes, and other times I will write information about the latest workshops running.
I love preparing, cooking and eating fresh, healthy Lebanese food using the recipes and know-how my father taught me. I am hoping that you will enjoy dishes from My Father's Table too. Please let me know if there are particular foods you might like to try.
Sahtain! Sa-KH-tan: an arabic word meaning double health, that you wish someone enjoying their food, before or after eating.