Lebanese Food / Wine and Culinary Traditions

Lebanese Food / Wine and Culinary Traditions
Spring time always inspires me...

Monday, January 21, 2019

Zimi - A Mediterranean Oven Eatery

I’ve started a new chapter in my life, Zimi. I’d be happy to celebrate with you the launch of our new Mediterranean eatery with the signing of the 2nd edition of the Mouneh book on Saturday at 4 PM – 6 PM. Let’s gather, drink, eat and have heated conversations around our oven.

Hope to see you there!
Barbara xoxo

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Salt - Inspiration

salt marshes of Enfeh Lebanon

“Do you know a cure for me?"

Sarah touching salt in its raw state

"Why yes," he said, "I know a cure for everything. Salt water."

"Salt water?" I asked him.

"Yes," he said, "in one way or the other. sweat, or tears, or the salt sea.”

― Isak Dinesen, Seven Gothic Tales

Charity Cookbook - Soup for Syria

Interlink publishes one charity cookbook each year to support worthy causes we care deeply about. We hope that you will join us in supporting these causes with your purchase of one or more of these fabulous cookbooks. 

Soup for Syria: Recipes to Celebrate our Shared Humanity Interlink will donate $15 from the sale of each book to support food and medical relief for Syrian refugees. Over $500,000.00 have been raised to date. 

Palestine on a Plate: Recipes from My Mother's Kitchen Interlink has donated $13,000.00 for the purchase of a permanent home for the Nablus-based children's center Palestinian House of Friendship. 

The Immigrant Cookbook: Recipes That Make America Great Interlink will donate $5 from the sale of each book to support the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project. $25,000+ donated this year.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Independence Day ABC Short Film

If Lebanon would be a 75 year old man, what would you tell him?  
Together we can be the change we want to see in our country. 🙏🏻 Making Lebanon a better place.
Happy 75th Independence Day! ♥️🇱🇧 

Very proud to be part of this campaign along with all these beautiful people ...

Monday, August 6, 2018

The Queen of Kibbeh – Suzanne Douaihy

Suzanne is a very friendly woman, who I met at Souk el Tayeb many years ago. She would come every Saturday to showcase all her kibbeh varieties with her husband, Sarkis. Of course, I had to taste them all, as she generously gave me bites of each of them. I grew very fond of her. The soul of a cook is the amount of love one puts in food preparations. She has plenty of that going on... 

While shooting my cooking segments, years ago on LBC, I ran a show with her in her native village. We had so much fun. I am sharing a few pics of that moment together. Anthony Bourdain, when he came to Lebanon, called her "The Queen of Kibbeh", thus Nay Aoun, the film producer and director of this new short document thought it would be the perfect title for this video. 

I am so lucky to have met good people in Lebanon who give the true values of Lebanese generosity. 

Suzanne El Douaihy is the Queen of Kibbeh. Kibbeh is a traditional Lebanese dish made of bulgur, minced onions and finely ground beef, lamb or goat mixed with local spices and herbs. It is famous and very much appreciated across the country. Suzanne is from a town north of Lebanon called Zgharta, the second biggest city in the North of Lebanon, after Tripoli. This region is famed for its kibbeh. For thirteen years, Suzanne has been making kibbeh, and has become famous across Lebanon selling her food in local farmer’s markets and catering to customers upon demand. She proudly continues to spread her knowledge and recipes to all.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Orange Blossom Harvest in Maghdoushe

© B Massaad - Mouneh 
Orange Blossom Harvest in Maghdouche

In spring time, it is an enriching experience to walk through a grove of orange trees blossoming with white flowers and bursting with fragrance. I’ve had many occasions to experience this romantic stroll throughout my journey. When you see, touch and smell these flowers you have the impression that they are declaring the coming of spring.

Magdousheh, a small town about 50 km (31 mi) south of Beirut, is reputed for its orange groves and its annual orange blossom water production. It is situated at an altitude of about 300 m (984 ft) above sea level. The town overlooks the Mediterranean Sea with its prominent pilgrimage site—home of the church of Our Lady of Mantara. On one of my visits I was accompanied by Oussama Amoun, a local resident and producer. We walked through the whole town meeting with people and discussing the year’s orange blossom yield.  During the season, villagers scatter through the groves and private gardens working simultaneously to harvest their prized orange blossom flowers. A faint perfume accompanies you as you walk through the streets. There is a certain ambiance unseen elsewhere in Lebanon at that particular moment. The tiny white flowers are laid out, scattered on empty large white bags. Distillers of different sizes and shapes are washed and set up carefully to ensure a proper yearly production. Farmers and producers of Magdousheh pride themselves on a superior quality of distilled orange blossom water. They insist that the trees should not be irrigated during the hot summer months. In fact, it is this hearty resistance which makes the flowers superior, thereby resulting in a higher quality product.

Oussama Amoun my guide to the wonders of Maghdouche

Traditionally, most households in Lebanon made their annual production of orange blossom water at home using a family alembic. Today, it is not unusual to find families gathered at a town center where the communal karakeh is set up with large bags of orange blossom flowers. Production is mainly reserved to villagers who keep the traditional distillation process alive. 

Lebanon Travel has recently worked on a short film to show you the best of Maghdoushe, thus the reason I wanted to share more information about this beautiful town and its people.

"The southern town of Maghdoushe has a beautiful story to tell. From its religious sites to its agricultural traditions, we share its many wonders"


Slow Food Community - A New Strategy

Today I received this important mail from Slow Food International. This initiative opens up new challenges for Slow Food Beirut, which I am heading presently. I spoke to founder and president Carlo Petrini about this new strategy, "Slow Food is not an elitist association, it should be open to all". I agree and will do everything to spread the word.

This is a period of radical change within the Slow Food movement all around the world.

The 2017 Congress in Chengdu (China) announced our aim to revolutionize the basis of our organization, making it less formal and more inclusive. We want to involve all of the people, groups, organizations, and communities that help to spread the Slow philosophy and carry forward our global projects, including Slow Food Gardens, Presidia, the Ark of Taste, Farmer’s Markets, and global campaigns.

The recently approved proposal is to move beyond the convivium model and create another form of grassroots organization: the Slow Food Community!

The International Council in Nairobi in June 2018 launched a transitional phase that will last until the autumn of 2020, when the global Slow Food network will meet for its next Congress.

It doesn’t mean that convivia doesn’t exist anymore, but that we have 2 years to think about how concretize this transition towards a new model.


A Slow Food Community is a group of people that shares the values of the international movement and commits itself, in accordance with the Founding Declaration, to pursuing Slow Food's objectives, vision, and actions.

Please start by advising other members in your area (by email, WhatsApp, Facebook, etc.) adapt and share this message with all the relevant contacts!

At Terra Madre Salone del Gusto, time will be dedicated to further explanation, brainstorming, and sharing ideas and experiences from the global network.

I’m also honored to introduce you to Barbara Massaad (en cc), Beirut convivium leader, international counselor for Slow Food in Middle East. Do not hesitate to contact her and exchange about a global strategy for the area!

We look forward to hearing from you.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

The Apple Does Not Fall Far From the Tree

You often wonder why you act a certain way, or take a path that leads you to something that you are familiar with... I understood this much later in life. I arrived to Lebanon as a young woman of 18 years of age. It was a very difficult period of my life - a cultural shock from sunny Florida. I was devastated. My father suggested I work with him, as he had the intention of setting up a photography studio in Ballouneh. I didn't want to hear anything about it. I wanted to go to university and learn a trade of my own... Years later, many years later... I have followed the steps of my father indirectly, in my own way focusing on food and photography with a strong curiosity and generosity towards other people (as he has all his life). So the expression, "the apple does not fall far from the tree" is quite relevant ... My childhood was different and I think that's what made me think "out of the box".

Now that my children are turning into young adults, it is fascinating to see the evolution of their characters and aspirations ... Each generation builds on the other, taking dreams into another level.

Carla Henoud, a renowned Lebanese journalist, wrote a beautiful piece about my father which I would like to share. It sums up his work and life in a way that she only knows how to write. If you are interested to read the article in English please copy and paste on google translate.

Perdu de vue ... Georgie Abdeni, un Dorian Gray Ă  l'envers !

Abdeni. Une signature, au haut d’un immense portrait en noir et blanc. Une griffe, celle du grand photographe Georgie Abdeni qui a immortalisĂ© des visages cĂ©lèbres et moins cĂ©lèbres, les figeant dans une beautĂ© intemporelle et indĂ©lĂ©bile. 

C’Ă©tait le temps du noir et blanc. L’heureux temps oĂą la photographie se sentait, se pensait et se faisait par des maĂ®tres-artisans, avec, pour outils de travail, un appareil, un studio et un regard. C’Ă©tait le temps de la frivolitĂ©, de l’Ă©mergence d’une crĂ©ativitĂ© qui trouvait enfin son expression, son identitĂ© et sa place au Liban. Heureux temps… 

Georgie Abdeni se souvient de ces jours en noir et blanc. Tout dans son studio des annĂ©es 70 lui rappelle les visages d’avant, leurs sourires et son bonheur de capter ces instants d’intimitĂ©. «Je suis un homme qui a arrĂŞtĂ© le temps, un Dorian Gray Ă  l’envers !», prĂ©cise-t-il, avec son grand sourire et son accent amĂ©ricano-libanais. Sur ces grandes photos qui comblent les murs comme des prĂ©sences Ă©ternelles, le temps assassin n’a en effet laissĂ© aucune empreinte . On dirait qu’il s’est arrĂŞtĂ©… Aucune trace de rides, d’annĂ©es rajoutĂ©es, de valeurs Ă´tĂ©es. Ces femmes troublantes de beautĂ© fixent le visiteur – ou l’objectif de Abdeni – et murmurent leur satisfaction. Elles ont toutes un regard intense, une attitude «mise en scène» par ce mĂŞme magicien. 

Pour rĂ©ussir ce travail, il fallait, bien sĂ»r, beaucoup de psychologie et de savoir-faire. «La photographie n’est pas seulement un art. C’est Ă©galement de la mode, du maquillage. Le photographe doit ĂŞtre un visagiste, un psychologue, un directeur de production et un metteur en scène». Il doit surtout ĂŞtre libre, son propre chef, «ne recevoir d’instructions ni de limites de personne. J’ai toujours imposĂ© mes idĂ©es, mes concepts, et mon propre style. VoilĂ  pourquoi j’ai rĂ©ussi». 

Une personnalitĂ© affichĂ©e Georgie Abdeni , longtemps photographe de stars et d’hommes politiques, a fait la couverture du magazine al-Hasnaa’ durant de nombreuses annĂ©es; il a flirtĂ© avec la publicitĂ© et a saisi des centaines de regards, de femmes surtout. Il connaĂ®t le visage humain comme un chirurgien ou un sculpteur. Son calme et sa gentillesse ont toujours rĂ©ussi Ă  mettre le modèle en confiance et en tirer le meilleur. «Il n’existe pas de beautĂ©, dans l’absolu. Chaque visage a une expression, un intĂ©rĂŞt propre». Sa personnalitĂ© a su cadrer et mettre en images des idĂ©es – photos publicitaires –, des personnes et des personnalitĂ©s. Ici, dans ce studio qui vit encore, sitt Sabah cĂ´toie le prĂ©sident Sarkis, Feyrouz, Georgina Rizk, «je l’ai dĂ©couverte quand elle avait treize ans», Faten Hamama, Hrair, Omar ShĂ©rif et Anita Eckberg font bon mĂ©nage. «Le caractère du modèle est important. Je suis toujours Ă  la recherche de la puretĂ© d’un visage, de l’angle idĂ©al, du bon moment et de la meilleure lumière». 

Il est arrivĂ© Ă  la photographie par goĂ»t, se donnant la prĂ©cieuse libertĂ© de s’Ă©loigner des «affaires Ă©trangères», apprises Ă  Georgetown, USA, de la banque dans laquelle il a travaillĂ© durant six ans, bref, de ce qu’il Ă©tait supposĂ© faire. «Ă€ l’Ă©poque, peu de gens “de bonne famille”» faisaient ce mĂ©tier. J’ai commencĂ© par les portraits, pour passer ensuite aux campagnes publicitaires. J’avais le bonheur de concevoir l’idĂ©e, le slogan et de rĂ©aliser la photo». Il se compare volontiers Ă  un chef cuisinier qui rĂ©ussit un plat avec des ingrĂ©dients utilisĂ©s par d’autres. «La personne devient pour moi un boulot, un peu comme si je devais fabriquer quelque chose de bien». Durant ces «annĂ©es photos», Abdeni va collaborer dans diffĂ©rents projets, sillonner le Liban avec RomĂ©o Lahoud pour le Firman, et parcourir le monde pour assouvir son besoin de libertĂ©s et d’images; souvent envoyĂ© spĂ©cial de al-Hasnaa, il ramènera des centaines d’images, des archives qui ont aujourd’hui une valeur incalculable. «Depuis une trentaine d’annĂ©es, lors d’un voyage pour al-Hasnaa’ oĂą je devais photographier des hommes et des lieux en Jordanie, je me suis retrouvĂ© dans une Ă©cole, avec deux enfants en train de se battre amicalement. J’ai calmĂ© les deux frères, avec des mots tendres, et puis j’ai pris mes photos». Le roi Abdallah de Jordanie et ses images d’enfant consolĂ© figurent Ă  prĂ©sent dans la galerie de photos de Georgie. Un scoop qui n’a pas de prix. 

MariĂ© en 1968 avec Laurence, père de deux filles, Barbara et Gabrielle, Abdeni ne s’est pas laissĂ© enfermĂ© dans la seule photographie. Durant les annĂ©es de guerre, il s’est interessĂ© Ă  la construction, Ă  la restauration, «la grenouille», en 1967, avec son ami et complice Jerry GurĂ©ghian, puis le «kebabs and things», en 1980, durant son exil «floridien», et «un peu de tout» ; Georgie construit encore sa «caverne d’Ali Baba», une grande maison oĂą il se plaĂ®t Ă  inventer des objets, des miroirs en mĂ©tal, bois, verre soufflĂ©, des cannes, des sculptures en bois, et s’occupe Ă  dĂ©corer les pièces comme il l’entend, mettre un vieil Ă©vier en guise de mur, construire une baignoire en pierre, crĂ©er un espace de vie libre de toute contrainte. 

Nostalgique et franc, il conclut : «Dans mon esprit, j’ai toujours ma vision de la personne, intacte. La revoir trente ans plus tard est souvent un choc !» Des images plein les yeux et la tĂŞte, on se surprend enfin Ă  rĂŞver de figurer un jour dans cet album prĂ©cieux, et demeurer ainsi Ă  l’abri du temps qui passe.

Un scoop de Abdeni, le roi Abdallah II et son frère