When I visited Lebanon a few years ago for the first time, I went with what I thought was a very open mind about all that I would see and experience. When it came down to it, though, I believed my sense for Lebanese ingredients and flavors had to be broad enough that there might not be many surprises.
It’s true that the apricots, the pistachios, the flower waters and spices were there front and center. But on that first glorious afternoon eating a feast at Mir Amin Palace, I scanned a corner display of the mouneh, the preserves and syrups. Apricot: check. Rose: check. Orange: check. Mulberry: wait, what?
I asked around about the flavor of the mulberry, and my mom chimed in about how mulberries grew in the backyard of her childhood in Ohio. It seems that yard was nothing short of an Eden, dotted as it was with quince and pears, raspberries and rhubarb and apples. And of course, mulberries. Alice, her mother, made mulberry jam (soon to be available again at Maureen Abood Market…promise).
I opened the bottle of mulberry syrup right then and there, saying aloud to anyone within earshot that I’d be paying for it in just a minute. I dipped my pinkie in and tasted a flavor that was the very definition of jammy. Berry, yes, but dark berry, like my beloved blackberry whose depth of flavor I have always loved but whose seeds, not so much. I bought a couple more bottles for the road, hoping they’d make the trip home without breaking.
They did survive (unlike the Arak; that was bad news), and it took some willpower not to use them up quickly back home. Once they were gone, they were gone, and I knew that would be it since I’ve never seen mulberry anything here in the U.S.
So when we launched Maureen Abood Market and I started getting better acquainted with my favorite Lebanese jams and flower waters from MyMoune, they sent some Mulberry Syrup along with the jam for us to try. Reunited with my mulberry syrup, I knew (hoped, believed!) you would love it as much as I do….
Besides dipping your pinkie in for a taste whenever you want to wake yourself up, you can try a few of these special and simple ways to get more mulberry into your own Eden, especially for Valentine’s Day:
Mulberry Sugar Cubes for a Champagne Cocktail
I use little cubette mini-ice cube trays because it takes just one small cube of sweet to dress up your champagne. Make the cubes with a cup of superfine sugar (blast granulated sugar in the processor) and a couple of tablespoons of mulberry syrup. Rub the sugar and syrup with the tips of your fingers until well blended. Press the mixture into the molds. Microwave at half-power for about 30 seconds, then let air-dry for at least an hour before taking the cubes out as you would ice: twist the mold and/or bang it on the counter. Store the cubes in an airtight jar, and drop one into your champagne for Valentine, or anytime, joy.
Pancakes with Mulberry Syrup
Use your favorite pancake recipe, heart-shaped for some drama never hurts. Drizzle the syrup over top. Both you, your pancakes, and your sweethearts will fall in love.
I have a thing for milkshakes and Valentine’s Day, and they just got a shot in the arm with mulberry syrup. Vanilla or strawberry ice cream, a hefty pour of mulberry syrup, blend until smooth. One glass, two straws, lots of smiles.