Jonathan Gold on Palestinian Chicken
Dear Mr. Gold:
My colleagues and I are interested to know if Palestinian chicken, as featured in a recent Curb Your Enthusiasm, is really a dish. If so, is it something you have sampled or seen a recipe for? —B
It's not generally referred to as Palestinian chicken, but the Palestinian kitchen is well-known for a chicken dish called mousakhan, baked with onions, spices and lashings of tart sumac, often served with broad sheets of ultrathin bread. (The go-to recipe, please forgive me, is from Joan Nathan's invaluable The Foods of Israel Today — she learned it from a man who was serving as Jordanian finance minister at the time.) I've never seen it on a menu in Los Angeles, although I'd like to. It may be a dish good enough to tempt even an ardent Zionist to flirt with the other side.
But what is on the plates at the fictitious Al-Abbas, the restaurant Larry David visits in the episode, seems to more closely resemble the chicken at the beloved Lebanese-Armenian restaurant Zankou — golden, crisp-looking and clearly roasted. The restaurant scene looks as if it probably was filmed in the Westwood restaurant Sunnin, which doesn't even have roast chicken on the menu, but the people behind the counter are wearing versions of the iconic yellow Zankou T-shirt, and the chickeny ambience is clearly that of Zankou. You will find the pro-Palestinian posters in neither restaurant.
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