Wednesday, October 29, 2008
It's been a long time since I've last written...You want to know the truth, my muse had left me all alone with a blank page staring at me for months. But guess what, my muse is back! She's Italian, she's wonderful, beautiful, full of empathy, full of love, full of trust, full of creativity, full of pleasure, sensual, mesmerizing, powerful, political, loving, cherishing...She's always been around in my life and has never left me for good. Her name is: Terra Madre.
The first time we were introduced officially it was in October 2006. I had just published my first book at the beginning of the year and had many projects in my head. In July, war broke out and changed all our plans. I saw my country being destroyed. I saw children being killed. I saw Lebanon's precious lands, agricultural territories, expensive infrastructure being destroyed. I was devastated. I felt it was personally done to destroy me. I would recognize places on TV which had been part of my culinary journey to make my book. I couldn't understand, there was no hope...
A trip had been planned with the initiatives of the founder of Souk el Tayeb, Kamal Mouzawak. I was invited because of my book and the efforts I had been building towards Lebanese food and its production. I was so frantic that I even considered not going to Italy, but fate decided otherwise.
Terra Madre and Salone del Gusto turned out to be a true revelation for me as a person, as an author, as a human being sharing this earth with billions of others. Meeting Carlo Petrini, the god of Slow Food was so inspiring that immidiately I thanked him for giving me back my energy to go on and to face my country positively regardless of all our misfortune. We were treated like kings and queens... We were fed both physically and mentally. I was housed with chefs from all over the world, we spoke of our country...of our losses...of our hopes... over a scrumptious dinner with Italian red wine.
The healing process took over and I was able to continue what I set out to do .... always having in the back of my mind... my muse... my Terra Madre.
The year 2008: alot has changed since then in my life. I have learned lessons of life dealing with lost friendships, power struggles, corruption, total loss of inspiration, neglect, fear....
Once again, she's at my side... October 2008... Terra Madre 2008 : the comeback...this time I feel true sorrow to leave Italy in fear of loosing once again my muse... but does one ever loose one's muse? I don't think so...it just fades away to be reawakened abruptly with an intense feeling of energy and fate.
This year I've decided to take my son with me because perhaps this could be the best education I could provide for him. I wanted to share my muse with my son Albert, who by the way discovered oysters and ate them everyday with PASSION!
I was welcomed by a wonderful hostess, an Italian woman called Imma. She jumped at my neck and kissed me as if we were long lost friend. She gave us her bed and slept on the sofa. She fed us as if we were her children. She kissed us goodbye before we left in the morning. She provided love and nourishment, another Terra Madre characteristic.
Lebanon with the organization of Slow Food Beirut (www.slowfoodbeirut.org) showcased a range of products: zaatar planted in the south, frikeh (smoked green wheat) make in Chama', wine produced in the Bekaa by the Khoury family, kishek el khamireh made by Earth and co., and a new book called From Akkar to Amel, a study dealing with a food trail of traditional Lebanese products written by Dr. Rami Zuraik. My son played the derbakeh to entertain passersby. But our stand was not only about products or entertainment, it was about pride. The pride we as Lebanese feel towards our small but rich country, Lebanon.
Once again the Italians have done it .... 7,000 participants, over 130 communities will go home with inspiration, new outlooks, hope, and energy!
Grazie mille Terra Madre ... a la prochaine ....
For those interested to learn more about Slow Food, please visit their website at www.slowfood.it , or visit our local chapter mentioned above. We welcome new members with