The Star Ledger, New Jersey's largest newspaper, today featured an article called "Under the Syrian Sun" on the cuisine of the Syrian Jewish community, specifically those from Aleppo.
It was a nice overview of this proud community, despite the shock of learning that their rendition of yebrak contains a fruity apricot/tamarind sauce!
"These traditions fuse lusciously in yebra, an Aleppian take on stuffed grape leaves. Unlike the cold garlicky versions commonplace in the Mediterranean rim, yebra are scented with cinnamon and allspice, and they're cooked slowly in a tamarind-apricot sauce. The savory sauce should thicken in the pot and then cling to grape leaves, served hot. The remnants of the melted apricots slide across the palate like silk."Syrian Jews have fascinated many writers, probably because they tend to practice Judaism quite seriously and conservatively, but retain very, very semitic Syrian customs and traditions that differ dramatically from their Askenazi counterparts.