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AUGUST 29, 2009   

The Middle East meets the Near West Side

Lots of costumed dancers in Market Square Park, ClevelandWhen I went to the West Side Market today the whole surrounding block was alive with people, activity and music. When I first walked down Market Street and through the corner park it was to the Latin beat of Robert Ocasio's Latin Jazz Project.

After spending all the cash I had—in pretty short order—buying lots of bread, bagels and cheese, I headed back through the park.

This time the beat had a distinct Middle Eastern sound, and the square was filled with belly dancers from Troupe Shabaana. I've seen them perform before, but never in these numbers. I guess this was a special end-of-summer gathering of all the troupe's dancers and students from various schools. The large crowd watching loved it.

White bowl with red tomato-based Moroccan soupBack home I kept with the Middle Eastern theme by making a Moroccan Tomato Soup from a New York Times recipe.

The cold soup, heavy on spices, cilantro and celery, reminded me of gazpacho. I used a dollop of plain yogurt to cool the flavor a bit, and we ate it with Asiago cheese bread from Christopher's at the Market. Delicious.

Plus it used quite a few of the tomatoes that have been ripening profusely the past week.

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