Almost our first act upon arriving in Damascus was to go to lunch at one of our favorite restaurants, Siwar al-Sham. It’s a non-pretentious place behind the Meridien hotel, serving a combination of Syrian and European cuisine. But the prices are so low that it actually shouldn’t even be called “cuisine.”
We came here a lot when we lived in Damascus, and the waiters often gave us the Arabic menus. Our favorites were the soups and the Arabic dips (I think little in-utero Miriam subsisted almost entirely on Siwar’s baba ghanouj). Sometimes, however, we were given the English menus, and that was always a special treat. And today I bring you something obtained at great peril to my personal sense of shame at being caught taking a photograph in public: a picture of that menu.
This is a newer version of the menu we remember. They removed a few items (no more “local nuggles”) and corrected a few of the more egregious errors (“gordon bleu,” for example). Bizarrely, however, new errors were somehow introduced to items that were previously correct. We spent a few minutes deliberating, and we think that our old favorite, “steak with lemon juice and garlic” is now “slices with citric acid and garlic.”
Miriam Damascus with a hummus mustache
Other highlights include “spinal cord pane” (I wonder if that’s like the “juicy pain” they give you on the Aleppo-Damascus train?), “tongues salad,” and “Spresso.”
For the record, we had baba ghanouj, hummus with meat and pine, and vegetable soup. It was delicious, unlike those nasty local nuggles.