Antoinette Jreij of The Original Daily Bread Marketplace Dishes on Raw Meat and Religion
|Photo by Riki Altman|
|The Original Daily Bread Marketplace's head cook, Antoinette Jreij|
New Times: Any ingredient you don't like working with? Why?
Antoinette Jreij: I don't like cumin. I cook with it, but I try not to put too much in the food. I know this is not going to make the Indian people happy...
What ingredient or dish is on too many American (or global) menus?
I'm tired of hamburgers.
If you could have one last meal, what would it be?
I love raw kibbie.
How is that different than the other kibbie?
Raw kibbie is with more meat to it. Fresh. I add herbs to it and add olive oil and put green onions on the side. It's the best way.
Do you serve it here?
No. You have to make sure...it has to be cold. It's raw meat.
What's always in your refrigerator at home?
Kibbie is always in my fridge. A lot of vegetables. I have to have lettuce, carrots, and cucumbers. In my freezer are all frozen vegetables. I don't like anything from a can. Fruit. Whatever is in season. And I love all kinds of cheese, French, Greek, American.
So you have to cook at home, too?
Of course. I make something very light.
My kids are in college [at FIU]... but Sunday I have to cook at home. Big dinner.
Do people often ask you for the restaurant's recipes?
Always people want to know "What's on this?" By law we have to give ingredients, but we can't tell you everything [preparation directions] because we want to see you again! Besides, I could tell three people and each person cooks it differently.
Any types of cuisine you are curious about but haven't attempted?
I try all foods.
In these politically charged times, do you feel people shy away from Middle Eastern food?
No. I'm always proud of our food and my background. I try to give a good picture of Lebanon over here. I love America, that's why I'm here, but I never forgot where I came from. I like to represent my country the best way I can.
You were working here during 9/11. Did you encounter any boycotts or protesters?
We got all the TV channels here. But thank God [the events] didn't affect work at all.
What was going through your mind when you heard about all that?
We feel shame about what happened, but each person can represent himself. People are wise enough to know who is bad and who is good, especially in this country. You don't have to pay for what your brother or grandfather did. In this country, whatever mistake you pay for. Not your mom, not your kids.
And even now, with this Koran-burning talk, do you notice a drop in the number of customers you serve?
Are you Muslim, by the way?
I'm Christian, but I believe with Muslims and Christians you can have good and bad. Even brothers--one could be Muslim and one could be Christian, one could be good and one could be bad. But I think a lot of Muslim people are very good people.
And how about Daily Bread's owners? Are they Muslim?
They're Christian, too.
Think there's room in Miami for more Middle Eastern restaurants?
I think there's always room for good food.
Plans for the future?
You always have to try and make things better. We're working on a new menu.
So what makes the food at this restaurant stand out from other Middle Eastern places?
I cook it with a lot of love.