ARAB AMERICAN NATIONAL MUSEUM DINNER, JANUARY 10, 2007
During a detailed discussion on the impact that Arab Americans have had on our Detroit culture, as well as the Arab influence throughout all walks of American life, no setting is better than the Arab American National Museum (13624 Michigan Ave., Dearborn 48126).
And no group more accommodating than the museum staff. The fact that Melinda Amen, daughter of facility manager Ron Amen, was instrumental in preparing a marvelous spread of traditional Arab foods was an unexpected bonus. Kudos to the staffers for educating us on this marvelously healthy cuisine.
As a chef, executive producer Keith Famie was familiar with most of the dishes, but among the most delicious was maloochia, a stew-like vegetable dish that even he was unfamiliar with. Made from a spinach-like vegetable, it was served over rice. Also on the table was creamy hummus and babaghanouge, for which Ron Amen demonstrated proper etiquette: using triangles of pita bread for a serving utensil. A potato dish called batata (there is no letter ‘p’ in the Arabic language, according to Ron, whose family origins are Lebanese) was savory and stupendous, flecked with fresh cilantro. Taboulleh was a refreshing salad course, and the meal finished up with a sinfully wonderful spread of traditional pastries.
Following the meal, Ron and marketing coordinator Barbara Logan took us on an impromptu, but amazingly detailed tour of the Arab American National Museum, the only museum of its sort in the United States. Although we had ‘solo’ toured the museum several days before, the rich stories and cultured explanation by Ron and Barbara, and in particular, personal stories of some of the Arab American luminaries that the museum features (along with a wealth of historical artifacts and touching mementos) made our second tour as enlightening as the first.