When Adam Davidson was a reporter in Baghdad during the Iraq War, he started dating a fellow-reporter, Jen Banbury, of Salon. On a holiday break, they left the war zone and traveled to Aleppo, Syria—then a beautiful, ancient, bustling city—and, while there, they ate the best sandwiches that they had ever had. They were shockingly good, so much so that Adam and Jen never quite registered what was in them or where they came from. The couple, now married, told this story to many friends over the years, but none was more interested than Dan Pashman, the host of the food podcast “The Sporkful.” Fascinated by the mystery, Pashman set out on a quest to find and re-create the sandwiches. He talked to Syrian emigrés, a political refugee, and finally to Imad Serjieh, the owner of the family sandwich shop that bears his last name. Pashman found that the Serjieh sandwiches—preferably the one made with boiled, spiced lamb brain—aren’t just a local favorite; they capture the essence of the city, and, as long as they are still being made, Pashman thinks, Aleppo lives.
Plus, the writer and monologuist Jenny Allen has something she’d like to say to you—or, rather, some things she’d like you to stop saying.