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Sunday, June 3


In the dreary winter in January I was at the Hauptmarkt (main market) shopping for my weekly produce and eggs. I’ve frequented this farmer’s market (because it’s so close, 4 minute walk) more than any other in the area and prefer it to the grocery stores. I have my favorite farmers that sell produce grown in Knoblauchsland, translated to garlic land. (Garlic land/county is 10 kilometers from here, local and seasonal vegetables and fruits are grown.)

As I was browsing through the vegetable bins, I heard an older gentleman greet the vendor “Good afternoon.” Perplexed by what I had just heard, I paid no attention. When I was done picking out my produce, I asked the vendor if she had Parsley. I asked in German but said Parsley because I couldn’t remember the German word. She didn’t know what I was asking for and suggested I ask the older Gentleman because he knows English. A-ha, I did hear him say something in English. I politely asked him and he reminded me, Petersilie. Unfortunately, she didn’t have it.

After we bought our veggies, he and I made small talk and he asked me to coffee.This may seem really odd now but it was very innocent. We had a great conversation at the city library coffee shop. CT moved here 7 years ago from Boston to be with his German wife. He is a counselor (namely Therapist but because he is not licensed in Germany he can’t say Therapist). I shared my frustrations with learning the language and he suggested tips on learning and speaking German. At the end of the coffee meeting he suggested I meet someone he knows professionally. He said this would be good for both of us because she wants to practice English.

CT introduced me to my tandem partner, S. S is from Bremen and works for the city. Her boyfriend, family and life are in Bremen so she jokes she lives two lives. She is friendly and approachable. She lived in the US for a semester in high school as an exchange student. Sadly, her host family wasn’t nice and often talked about the war with her, leaving a bad taste in her mouth of the experience.

Since our initial meeting, S and I have met multiple times. It’s pleasant to speak German with a native. And she’s really helpful when I have trouble remembering words or explains in other words when I don’t understand. She’s patient with my German and I am thankful. We rarely speak in English, maybe because she hasn’t suggested it and I am fine with this arrangement.

She doesn’t cook much because she works long days but wants to learn a thing or two. We’ve planned a cooking date in the future and I hope to share some recipes.

This vegetarian Moussaka is one.  Moussaka is a Greek dish made with ground lamb. To make it lighter, healthier and leaner I used Bulgur in place of lamb.

Moussaka with Bulgur

Inspired by CookingLight Recipe
Serves 4, generous portions

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 large Italian eggplants, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch-thick slices

1 cup chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup uncooked bulgur
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups organic vegetable stock (or water)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
4 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons finely grated fresh parmigiano reggiano cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt & freshly ground black pepper

Heat a 10 inch skillet on medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and arrange eggplant slices on the skillet. Cook for 1 minute on one side and turn over and cook for 1 more minute on the other side. Remove the slices to a plate and season with salt. Repeat the same process until all the eggplant slices are browned on both sides. It took me 3 time to cook all the slices.

In the same skillet, add remaining 1 tablespoon oil, swirl to coat and add chopped onion. Sauté 5 minutes. Then add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add bulgur; cook for 3 minutes or until bulgur is lightly toasted, stirring frequently. Add salt, ground allspice, cinnamon, and cloves; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in oregano and tomatoes. Add stock (or water) and bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper, accordingly.

Preheat oven to 350°.

For sauce, melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk flour into butter and cook for 1 minute. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly with a whisk so no lumps form. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes or until thickened, stirring frequently. Stir in cheese, salt and black pepper. Remove from heat, and cool slightly.

Coat an 8x8-inch glass or ceramic baking dish with olive oil. Arrange half of the eggplant on the bottom then spread the bulgur mixture evenly over eggplant.Arrange remaining eggplant slices and then finish with another layer of bulgur mixture. (There should be 4 layers, eggplant-bulgur-eggplant- bulgur). Finish by adding the sauce over the top. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil and return the dish to oven for 10 more minutes or until the top is browned. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Ground lamb is very good in anything, especially Moussaka, however we didn’t miss the meat here. I am certain this will be tastier when the eggplants are in season but it’s still scrumptious rest of the year.


  1. I cannot wait to try this! I love Moussaka but haven't made it in years. I never thought to use bulgur to give it some heft/texture.

  2. I'd love to hear how it turns out for you. I also made bulgur salad with cucumbers recently and it was a hit. I am loving Bulgur right now.