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On the hunt for lentil soup

Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report
You can find lentil soup at Zam Zam in Warr Acres on Saturday nights.
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OKLAHOMA CITY -- “How can you govern a country that has 264 varieties of cheese?” sighed a weary French President Charles de Gaulle in the 1960’s.

Zut alors! So true, monsieur

And in recent months I have had a somewhat similar feelings regarding my efforts to sample all of the different flavors of lentil soup offered in the Oklahoma City area as the number of Mediterranean restaurants that serves that concoction continues to grow.

The editor of New Orleans Magazine, Errol Laborde, has written about how when he visited the famous Italian Central Grocery Store in the French Quarter of that city he found more than 13 varieties of olive oil being offered for sale there in cans and that some offered varying degrees of virgin olive oil, and that he did not have sufficient energy to count the glass containers of olive oil that were available there.

And while the preparers of lentil soup in Oklahoma City do not claim to offer that concoction in a competing degrees of virginity, the variations found in its ingredients is equally varied.

Approximately a decade ago, a flavorful version of that soup became a popular item in Camilya’s Mediterranean Café on May Avenue in North Oklahoma City and that establishment was operated by a husband and wife team of Arab immigrants who were known to their clientele as Abeer and Alex.

And while that couple separated several years ago and Abeer was left operating Camilya’s, Alex opened a new place, Jerusalem, on 15th Street in Edmond, that offers lentil soup that is somewhat spicier than the concoction that continues to be devoured by grateful patrons at Camilya’s.

And the recently opened Baba G’s Mediterranean Grill on Memorial Road across from Mercy Hospital dispenses a type of that soup which is not spicy but is thick with other ingredients that give it the look of an Arab Goulash and can constitute a full meal as a result. That place also offers cooked pieces of pita bread without charge that can be immersed in the soup.

Zam Zam Mediterranean Restaurant in Warr Acres only serves its lentil soup on its Saturday evening buffet, and that tasty concoction can be given more flavor with the lemon juice dispensers that allow patrons to add it to the soup.

The lentil soup that is available at the Simply Falafel restaurant in Edmond is from a ancient recipe that its proprietor, Magid Assaleh, brought with him from his native Syria decades ago, and includes juicy chunks of potatoes that are graced with Eastern flavors.

And my sampling efforts have been complicated by the ever resourceful Veral Mehta who has brought to his Gopuram restaurant an Indian version of lentil soup that includes a broth filled with several spicy ingredients from the Indian Subcontinent, and it is possible that the other Indian and Pakistani eateries in Oklahoma City will follow his lead since he is somewhat of a trendsetter.

The Culinary Section of The New York Times has reported that a red Mexican version of lentil soup has in recent years found its way into the Big Apple, and that it has developed devotees throughout the Five Boroughs of that metropolis.

Like its counterpart that’s served in Oklahoma City, the Mexican lentil soup there varies from eatery to eatery, we were told, and occasionally includes meat. And I may soon mount an expedition to some of the Hispanic eateries that have recently opened in Oklahoma City to ascertain if the Mexican lentil soup has yet to makes it way here.

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About the Author

Bill O'Brien

Bill O'Brien is an attorney based in Oklahoma City.

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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