Tabouli, kabuki, and other strange noises

Posted on Friday 13 June 2008

My favorite computer wizard visited my office yesterday to exorcize one of our computers from its latest evil spirit. Fortunately it isn’t that often we succumb to such measures, but there are times we have to call in an exorcist. We call our cherished wizard “The Great Tabbouleh” which is so much more interesting than simply calling him “The Exorcist”.

You are probably asking where that name came from, and for those of you who already know what tabbouleh is(pronounced “ta • boo • lee” and also spelled “tabouli”), you must be asking what parsley, onions and tomatoes have to do with wizards and demon-possessed computers, but let me explain. The Great Tabbouleh and I go to the same church, and once a month our church has “dinner on the grounds”, that good, old-fashioned lunch following church where everyone brings a dish and we all sit down and eat together. I have had a bumper parsley crop in my herb garden this Spring, so I decided to make tabbouleh for “dinner on the grounds”. Tabbouleh is basically a salad of chopped parsley, green onion, and tomatoes combined with bulgur wheat and a simple dressing of olive oil and lemon juice. Until that day’s lunch we referred to The Great Tabbouleh as simply, Cliff. While Cliff seemed to savor eating the dish, he liked saying the word “tabbouleh” much more. In fact he now uses the word “tabouli” every chance he gets to express emotion or to describe something. Thus we have named Cliff “The Great Tabbouleh”–”tabbouleh” because he likes the dish and “great” because he rescues us every time we have a computer disaster. (We prefer the fancier spelling “tabbouleh” rather than “tobouli” because it is much more distinguished and fitting for our wizard.)

Tabouli, the dish, is one of those that people either like or don’t like. People always ask me what is in tabouli, and I glady let them know, but what I don’t often tell them is that the origin of the dish is Arab. Something I also neglected to tell my brother-in-law recently when I took it to my sister’s house for Mother’s Day. He isn’t one of those people who falls in the “like tabouli” category, and the word, for him, did not evoke the same sentiment as it does with The Great Tabbouleh, especially if I had told him its origin. In fact, my brother-in-law found the word hard to say and kept referring to it as “kabuki” which is an entirely different foreign-inspired artform.

Kabuki is really a theatrical peformance of Japanese origin that includes a highly stylized song, mime, and dance, not to be confused with another artform of the same name, but Redneck in origin, and performed on a chair made of porcelain. So what does “kabuki” have to do with “tabouli”? I’m not sure unless, Redneck in origin, “kabuki” is a direct result of eating “tabouli”.

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