After the genocide of 1915, many of the surviving Armenians relocated throughout the Middle East, many to Lebanon. Among the things they took with them was their love of spicy meats, specifically basturma and sujuk.
In the newly opened Mediterranean Gourmet Market in the pocket strip center near the intersection of Highway 51 and Monroe Road (11100-I Monroe Road, Matthews), chef-owner and Lebanese native Tony Nazrallah makes many meats in-house, including basturma, sujuk, and makanek. Nazrallah earned a culinary degree from CPCC and completed his apprenticeship in Beirut.
Dried and cured basturma is said to be an acquired taste since the coating is a mix of pungent garlic, hot paprika, cumin and flavorful fenugreek. Traditionally, basturma is served as part of mezza (small dishes) or as a snack with hot crusty French bread and thin slices of pickled wild cucumber. Nazrallah sells his in sliced packages ($8 per pound). Sujuk, similar to some Italian salamis, is a semi-dried spicy beef sausage typically served during mezza, but also with eggs at breakfast. Makanek are mini lamb sausages in casing traditionally eaten with a spritz of lemon at breakfast. Both sausages are available in the freezer section.
In addition to these Armenian meats, Nazrallah is also making Lebanese shawarma. Meat items available in the market are a preview of the menu items he will offer when his Lebanese deli — The Mediterranean Deli — opens later this spring. He says he will make the best chicken tawook sandwich in town.
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