Jerusalem – Taste of the Holy Land – Rio Rancho, New Mexico

Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are inextricably tied to the ancient city of Jerusalem, the epicenter of sacred sites both unique and common to all three religions.  One of the oldest cities in the world as well as Israel’s capital city, Jerusalem has a prominent role in both the Old and New Testament.  According to Bible Study Tools, “the name “Jerusalem” occurs 806 times in the Bible, 660 times in the Old Testament and 146 times in the New Testament; additional references to the city occur as synonyms.” Surprisingly, Jerusalem is not directly mentioned by name in the Qur’an, even in its Arabic translation of Al Quds. As a lifelong Catholic (with the bad knees to show for it), the significance…

TIKKA HUT PIZZERIA AND KABOB HOUSE – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

“I’ll give you three guesses to tell me what tabula rasa means,” I challenged my friend and Wordle phenom Carlos.  “That’s easy,” my erudite amigo proclaimed, “Tabula Rasa was a silent screen actress in the 1920s.”  “Close,” I replied, “but you’re thinking about Tallulah Bankhead.”  “I was just kidding,” he demurred, “Everyone knows tabula rasa is a Mediterranean salad.”  “You’re getting closer,” I joked, “but the Mediterranean salad you’re thinking about is tabouli.”  On his third attempt, Carlos gave me the right answer: “I’m drawing a blank.” Tabula rasa, in fact, translates from Latin to “blank slate.” In psychology as well as in epistemology (theory of knowledge), tabula rasa refers to the idea that we are solely the product of…

Mediterranean Kitchen – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

A few years ago if you told some of us we should follow a Mediterranean diet, we probably would have salivated at the prospect of having pizza and wine every day though we would have wondered how we could possibly lose weight on such an indulgent diet.  Today, the Mediterranean diet is widely recognized by dieticians as one of the most heart-healthy ways to eat.  Moreover, studies consistently show that a diet adhering to the principles of the traditional Mediterranean diet is one associated with longevity. In truth there is no one standard Mediterranean diet.  In fact, the term is rather generic and is based on the traditional eating habits of the sixteen or so countries which border the Mediterranean…

Tikka Hut – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

The cynosure of Tikka Hut, an Indian Fusion restaurant on First Street, is a colorful mural that pays tribute to the extraordinary and constantly evolving history of Mexican cuisine.   The mural depicts the mesmerizing countenance of a beautiful indigenous maiden, maybe even the infamous Malinche herself.  Immediately below the maiden is a Muslim Dhow sailing the azure waters of the ancient world.  The mural was commissioned when the name on the restaurant’s marquee read “Urban Taqueria.”   It’s an evocative spray-painted masterpiece that should inspire contemplation and discussion. It certainly will if you ask owner Hanif Mohamed about it.   Hanif is not only a restaurant impresario who’s owned an extraordinary portfolio of diverse restaurants, he’s quite a culinary historian. …

Mama Zahira Foodies – Albuquerque, New Mexico

It’s so easy to be judgmental, to take things at face value…to assume.  As my friend Bruce “Sr. Plata” Silver and I approached Mama Zahira Foodies’ order window, we espied the self-deprecating term “The Wacky Iraqi in Albuquerque” scrawled by the vehicle’s rear wheel well.  The term “wacky” made us wary.  It’s just not a term we associate with great food.  No sooner had we reached the window when we were greeted by Riadh Seheem, a thickly accented, very gregarious gentleman who couldn’t wait to tell us about his food truck.  Talking a mile a minute with the unfettered enthusiasm of a child at Christmas, he raved about his truck’s menu.  Yes, it would have been far too easy to…