“Why don’t you weigh 300 pounds?” It’s a question get asked all too often. “I mean with all the good stuff you eat,” the non-food-writer person continues in amazement after seeing me take down an entire order of 15 lamb dumplings and then bewail the fact that I have a dinner meeting in two hours at some temple of meat or another. The number is always 300 pounds—roughly twice my current body weight—never 275, 350, or 412. Depending on who’s asking I’ll either make a crack about ingesting tapeworms purchased on Roosevelt Avenue, roll my eyes, or both.
The real answer beyond a high metabolism, putting in gym work, and not writing about every single thing I eat—nobody wants to read about me eating fruit and nuts for breakfast—is dishes like the labneh and zaytoon at Wafa’s, a homey little Lebanese spot in Forest Hills.
The other night I stopped by and wasn’t sure what to eat. Much as I like Wafa Chaimi’s chicken served with garlicky toum and her falafel, both were too heavy for a hot summer evening. “Get the labneh and zaytoon,” her son Youssef suggested. So I did.
Labneh, is a housemade yogurt and zaytoon are olives. The tangy yogurt is dusted with mint, paprika and just a touch of cayenne. Taken with a basket of pita it’s an excellent light summer meal. Such meals are just one of many reasons I don’t weigh 300 pounds.
For the record, today’s breakfast consisted of strong coffee, a slice of bread, a peach, and a handful of peanuts. Lunch will be slightly heavier, I’ve promised to take a friend to Flushing and eat everything in sight. It’s a hard knock life.
Anyone that has been on a tour with you should know the answer: you engage in a lot of exercise walking all over Queens! That was just one part I enjoyed most. Plus, many of the dishes are healthy, lean, etc. The rest of the world eats a lot better than most of us in the U.S., but they’re slowly (sadly) catching up little by little.