I couldn't possibly talk about ZOOKZ without first introducing you to my grandmother, Berdjoui. She is the reason ZOOKZ came to be. Berdjoui raised my three siblings and me after our mom, her daughter, died unexpectedly when we were young. I was born in Egypt, but grew up in Tripoli, Libya, right on the Mediterranean Sea, back when King Idris and the Italians were there. Tripoli was a very European city then - beautiful boutiques, restaurants, beaches. My childhood was wonderful, full of travel and adventure. Berdjoui, who spoke six languages and loved to travel, always returned from her trips with something for us.
It all started when Berdjoui returned from a trip to London. We met her at the airport and noticed that she was carrying a strange contraption. "What is it?" the four of us wanted to know. She explained to my three siblings and me that it was for us, and that with it she was going to make us the best sandwiches we had ever had. We were not excited. After all, the last time she returned from one of her trips, she brought us something we could really enjoy - the new Beatles album.
That same day, Berdjoui made for us our very first ZOOKZ. She drizzled a slice of bread with olive oil and put it on one side of the contraption. She then made a hollow in the bread with the back of a tablespoon and cracked an egg into the hollow, topped it with shredded gruye`re cheese, some prosciutto and another piece of bread she had also drizzled with olive oil. She then squeezed the two sides of this new contraption together and held it over a gas flame. The result was the most delicious sandwich I had ever tasted, enhanced by the smell of the toasted bread, olive oil and melting cheese. For me, it was the ultimate comfort food. I craved those sandwiches, but it wasn't just the sandwiches, it was the love that went into them...
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