Fattoush and the bread: #TeamGrilled or #TeamFried

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I love Lebanese food. I believe it is one of the healthiest, most colourful and most delicious cuisines in the world. I especially love Lebanese salads, or in simpler terms Tabbouleh and Fattoush. We grew up eating those every week and they are not just part of our diet, but also part of our culture.

We’ve always eaten Fattoush with grilled bread at home and I never had the curiosity to know more about the bread, until I started noticing that every time we go to a Lebanese restaurant and with the exception of very few, Fattoush is served with fried bread, not with grilled bread.

So I asked my mom why Fattoush is served with either bread and how it should be served originally, and this is what I found out: Fattoush is originally served with fried bread. That is the initial recipe. However, back in the days, not everyone could afford gas and oil to fry things, especially bread. So they started grilling the bread instead. Even grilling was sometimes an expensive means to change the bread, so what mothers did in poorer areas was to put the bread in the sun for it to “toast” or to harden enough to be served in Fattoush. How interesting is that! To change an ingredient and how it integrates a dish based on what you can or cannot afford, and get a completely different taste experience in the process…

I like Fattoush with fried bread, but grilled bread wins me over every time. Fried bread keeps its crunch and has a special taste, but it doesn’t really absorb the dressing and the acidity of the Fattoush. Grilled bread, on the other hand, absorbs some of the juice and balances the acidity of the dish. It doesn’t need to be crunchy, as there are enough elements in the Fattoush mix that add crunchiness like cucumbers, radish, lettuce, etc.

I still put the bread way ahead for it to be completely soaked with the Fattoush dressing. For me, this is the only way to really enjoy one of my all-time favourite salads :).