Lebanese Food and Culinary Traditions

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

Monday, May 18, 2015

Baking Pizza "en Famille" at the Beirut Street Food Festival

Caramelized onion and fresh mozzarella made in Lebanon
"Mourou, this is my happiness. How can people not see it?"

"Mami, it's OK, if everyone knew it, there would me too many of us." — Albert, my son at the first Beirut Street Food Festival on the day of his 18th birthday, May 17 2015, while baking flat breads (pizza).

This was such a special evening for us as a family. It reminded me of the "restaurant" years with my own family in Florida.

I'd like to thank the organizers of this event  for doing such a great job namely Zeina Halawi and Youmna Mteiny. The only problem they had was that the festival was so in demand to so many that food stalls could not deliver so much food to such a crowd. Lesson learned .... next time will be even better. You have my full support.

It all started with Lea and the balloons
And then it suddenly filled up like mad
And we had hundreds of people waiting to EAT
And we we were very hard at work
Lea and Sarah becameperplexed on the crowd's demands
Mia finally showed off her talent
Albert baked like mad

A moment of tenderness with my youngest daughter Sarah
We watching in awe the crowd and giving thanks. This will be a memory someday.
Miou and me
Papi (dough, cut cheese, bring cheese) ... Our constant support

It was a memorable day.... 18 years ago today, I had given birth to my first child. It had been one of the happiest days of my life... Today, the happiness continues. I am lucky to have such a supportive family at my side. It's definitely my strength.May we always cook, eat and share our food together and with those who want to share it with us...Can't wait till the next one...

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Beirut Street Food Festival - Some Thoughts

To the ones who cook, cheers!
Beirut is having an awakening and it has to do with food! I'm so glad and have dreamed of this moment for a long time. It takes people who have traveled the world to come back and make a difference. So I am grateful to all those who are contributing to this amazing initiative, those who are cooking and to those who will come and taste the food. It does not matter if we make money or not. All that matters is that we live together this experience which in turn will bring many more alike. I have a feeling...

And this is what we are doing!
This Sunday is an important date for me too personally because it is my son's 18th birthday. What a coincidence that he will be cooking at this festival on his birthday, especially that he is going off to Lyon next fall to study culinary arts. Things happen for a reason in life and we just have to accept the good and sometimes the painful to finally become better people. This is an amazing experience for me... to be cooking with my son on his birthday with all of Beirut. It's really amazing. Beirut I love you!

The future...

About Art

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Maktoob - Destiny

olives cracked one by one with a stone
Serendipity "is the effect by which one accidentally stumbles upon something fortunate, especially while looking for something entirely unrelated." You may say it is written “maktoob”, it is destiny. This is my story, the one I fell upon, the one I am still writing, the one I am struggling each day to produce, to invent, to fabricate, and most of all create. My life should have a sense. I always felt this from the very beginning. I should leave a trace — One that is significant to me, to my family, to my community, to this place we call "earth". This trace should make some kind of difference. Someone or something must be better because of my doing — of my continuous efforts. It should be like a faraway scent that produces a memory — a memory of the past, a memory of better days, a memory of the senses, a memory of man's fading goodness.

It began in my father's restaurant at the age of fifteen. Those were difficult years, but the base of my culinary education. Times passed since those days — I married, had three children and still in the back of my mind, the recurring dreams of food related journeys and adventures. A woman's role in a family is maternal. What better way to show your innermost maternal instinct than by feeding your children. Isn't it the first instinct that a child initiates when he suckles on his mother's breast? Feeding your children with your knowledge and wisdom of life's experiences is essential, but also feeding them with real wholesome food made with the most important ingredient: LOVE is imperative and sets THE example.
It was written that I would leave the USA and go searching for my roots in Lebanon, my country of origin. It was destiny, some call her fate that knocked on my door and showed me the way. It was she that led me to visit all corners of the country in search of food related subjects and matters. It was she that gave me the chance to understand this diversified group of people who have all welcomed me as one of their own. It was she that gave me the perseverance to learn a new trade to capture these moments through the use of my camera. It is she that gives me the strength to carry on to fulfill my assignment — to preserve my country's culinary traditions, to defend its authenticity, to ensure its survival.

Monday, May 4, 2015

The Prophet - The Movie

I don't know if you all have noticed that all my books include a saying of Khalil Gibran somewhere. He has been an inspiration to so many of us Lebanese and non-Lebanese alike all over the world.

His words are sacred and really do make a lot of sense.

Many are asking me what I thought of the film:

The film The Prophet is wonderful. I simply loved it. It's not for everyone though. Everyone should study the book and watch the movie later. It's better like that. It might confuse those who have never read the book. The interpretation of the book is really simple and yet the different artistic styles used in different segments is really creative. Artists, who know what it takes to draw and paint, will really appreciate the work.  The music is AMAZING adding a lot to the different elements portrayed throughout the film. The story is less exciting and in my opinion could have been more elaborately developed  but again it is perfect for an all age audience. The "actors" are well chosen, although I would have preferred that Mustafa especially be of Middle-Eastern origins. The mixing of Mexican, American, Irish accents is weird to me...But I guess nowadays you need big names to get people to come and see the movie.

I will watch it again and again, for it is very inspiring and true.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Beirut Street Food Festival

Barbara (that's me) and Albert Massaad @foodyoulike  (my son) will be participating at the Street Food Festival this year representing Slow Food Beirut. We will be making flat breads with all kind of toppings: call them pizza, call them man'oushe, call them bread cooked with love. This will be a special occasion for mother and son, before Albert goes off to university at Lyon to study at Paul Bocusse to be a chef / restaurateur. Not only that but this will be a special day for Albert as he celebrates his18th birthday! Also on the agenda, the newly formed Slow Food Youth Network Lebanon will be cooking soup with vegetables which would have been dumped otherwise. Keep posted.

#beirutstreetfoodfest on Instagram
Beirut Street Food Festival on Facebook

Beirut Graffiti

Beirut Graffiti
Monday May 25 2015... Building is being torn down. Horrible.

The Mother Of Slow Food

I had the privilege to stay at Alice Water's house and live through her Chez Panisse restaurant with some awesome people. I visited the farms she works with and the edible school garden too... It was an experience I will never forget. Finally, people who are meant to meet, do! Why, because they share the same philosophy. It's basic, eat food that is less processed, straight from the earth to your mouth which has been treated without too much fuss, just naturally grown as mother nature intended. We humans complicate things and create chaos. It's so sad what has happened to the world's food system. Can we really call it food? One must respect what goes in one's mouth. Expensive to buy organic foods? I don't think so, considering that you buy designer clothes, etc... Isn't it more important what you put in your body than what you put to cover it? The whole system is messed up. The more we advance in technology, the more we are ruining the basics of our human lifestyle and going into a large gap of nothing. I know I am writing you on a computer through Facebook.... The irony of it all! So cheers Alice Waters to the mother of Slow Food International, I am continuing what you have started. I hope I can get good results as you have.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Diet for A New America - Hosted by John Robbins

Sometimes you read or watch something and say, "HEY this is exactly how I think". Please watch this video if you don't have time to read the book. Diet For A New America - Hosted by John Robbins.

Onno - Sad News, Owner Dies in a Car Crash

Today my friend Helena posted on Facebook the sad news about the owner of ONNO, Karnigue Nicolian, brother of Carmen Nicolian. Many of you may know that this is one of my favorite restaurants in Beirut. I wrote a review in 2012 and they put it on the wall of the restaurant in Bourj Hamoud. I am so proud to be a tiny part of this restaurant. The family who own and operate it are lovely and really cook with love. They have been in operation for 25 years and finally a year ago, they got their big break—They opened in Badaro and were also going to open in Hamra....and now BANG! Life is so unfair. I am very sad.

It is with a very heavy heart and enormous sadness that I write these few words. Karnigue Nicolian passed away yesterday in a car accident. His funeral is going to take place at the Sourp Nishan Church at 3:00 P.M. this afternoon. Our condolences go to his wife, Siran and his daughters, and his sister, Carmen and brother, Nazo. We are saddened by this news and pray that he rests in peace. Helena Krikorian Zakharia