Lebanese Food / Wine and Culinary Traditions

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

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tawlet Souk el Tayeb

OK, so I finally found a restaurant that resembles ME. I'm so pleased. It was wonderful! Bravo Kamal, you have done it once again. First, I love the fact that no soft drinks are available. The only drinks (which are natural) include Arak, lemonade, Lebanese beer, and coffee and tea - no poison! The buffet consisted of a meal prepared by our dear Oum Ali (Mona) from Majdal Zoun. Oum Ali makes delicious manankish on Saturday at the Souk in Saifi village on Saturday morning and at the Slow Food Earth Market on Tuesday in Hamra. It consisted of Moghrabieh, Kebbeh Nayeh Jnoubieh, Kebbet Banadoura, Mhamaret Djej, Mjadara Hamra, Hommos, Makanek, Tabbouleh, Mixed Salad, and Yakhnet Batata. It was delicious. The Moghrabieh was made by hand, not formed into small balls, but resembling a dish of burghul with a thick and mushy consistency. Desserts included: Brioche, Arisheh w Assal, Ashtalieh, and a cake from Canelle. I was so taken by our meeting with Cathy and Maria, crying all through our talks, that I forgot to take photos. Something magical happened that day with all of us! I think a great product will come out of this meeting. Regardless, I intend to come back and photograph all. Price wise: the buffet is for $25 or one can have a dish of Moghrabieh w salad for $10. It's very fair, given the amount of food you are eating. Opening hours are 9am to 6pm. To reserve a table call 961 1448129. The address is Naher Street, Chalhoub Bldg. Ground floor, facing Spoiler Center, dead end at the corner of Anthurium flower shop. See you there!

Time Out Magazine, Issue no. 14
The social worker and chef has become known in the community for his continuous efforts towards making 'eating well' attainable for all - Mouzawak has worked hard to foster an appreciation for small producers in villages across the nation.

Today, Mouzawak has at last finished building a stage to help expose the skills of those often seen as mere labourers - he calls it the K Workshop. 'It bothers me to see the general public regard these major contributors to our wellbeing as inferior. I strive against this view,' Mouzawak declares enthusiastically.

I agree with you completly Kamal, they should be put on a pedestal, as they are the bearer of the essentials of life - good food, good friends, and the simplicity to share it all... I shall be making them honor too soon in my Mouneh book... Can't wait!

In Divided Lebanon, Farmers' Market - a Model of Unity
By Jocelyne Zablit
Agence France-Presse

BEIRUT - On a parking lot in the heart of Beirut, Kamal Mouzawak has managed no small feat - uniting Lebanon's ever-divided religious communities around one common passion, food.

From Hussein Abu Mansour, from a Druze village in the southern Bekaa region, to Mona Al Dorr from a Shiite village near the Israeli border, to Sarkis and Lina Geryes from a Christian town in the north, all have joined to battle it out on the culinary rather than the political front.

They and several dozen other small-scale farmers and producers come twice a week with their baked specialties, preserves, vegetables, olive oil, fresh fruit juices and other products to Souk El Tayeb, Beirut's first farmers' market.

"We don't even acknowledge politics at the souk," said Mouzawak, a chef and television personality who launched Souk El Tayeb in 2004.

The 40-year-old entrepreneur who speaks passionately about his project was born into a family of farmers and his aim through the market is to perpetuate Lebanon's rich culinary tradition.

"Tradition, after all, is heritage," he said. "And there is no such thing as religious cuisine in Lebanon.”

"Whether Christian or Muslim, we all eat the same foods. The differences are more regional." The farmers at Souk El Tayeb want nothing to do with the political turmoil that has shaken their country in past years, pitting the different religious communities against each other.

Their interests revolve more around who can bake the best kebbeh, a traditional dish made of minced meat and burghul (crushed wheat), or come up with the tastiest tabbouleh, a parsley-based salad, or grow the most mouth-watering vegetables and fruits.

'Make food not war'

"It's a known fact that you can unite people through dialogue and that is what we have done here through food," said farmer Abu Mansour, 54, sporting the traditional baggy black pants worn by Druze men and a grey handlebar moustache.

For Rima Masood, 42, the market has been a blessing, allowing her to send her seven-year-old daughter to private school and to plan ahead.

"It has changed my life," said the mother of three on a recent Saturday as she baked manoucheh - a flatbread topped with a thyme mix - over a wood-fired spherical metal dome. "My family used to grow peaches and sell them in the summer and we would borrow money to make it through the winter.

"Now I can even think of renovating my house and buy things." Shoppers at Souk El Tayeb find an amazing variety of high-quality products ranging from organic vegetables and fruits to honey, marzipan, cheeses, laurel soap and bread. The stalls are also laden with mouneh - traditionally preserved foods for the winter.

Mouzawak has also endeavoured to revive grandma's recipes, including fassolia hammaniyeh, a bean dish from the northeast village of Hammana, thistle-based dishes from the Shouf region, and mwaraka, a baklava-like pastry, in a bid to preserve the country's culinary heritage.

The market, which caters to well-heeled Beirutis, has met with such success that Mouzawak in the last three years has taken his show on the road, organising themed food festivals around the country.

A restaurant - Tawlet Souk El Tayeb - will also soon open its doors, featuring meals prepared daily by different cooks who will each bring to the table a regional specialty.

"I am most proud when I hear a farmer say that the souk has changed their life," said Mouzawak, who refused to shut down the market during the 2006 war between Hizbollah and Israel or through the political turmoil of recent years.

"Our basic message is 'make food not war'." Ahmed Khodr Hussein, a Sunni farmer from the region of Akkar in northern Lebanon, couldn't agree more.

"I earn my living every Saturday and Wednesday at the souk," said the 53-year-old father of 15 who is known as Abu Rabii.

"You have more than 47 families who live off this market, united under one roof," he added. "If only the entire country was like that."

16 August 2009

1 comment:

Beto Metri said...

Meu nome é José Alberto Metri. Sou brasileiro, descendente de libaneses. Meus avós vieram de Kfar Katra para uma cidadezinha do Estado de Minas Gerais, no Brasil, chamada PALMA. Aqui ainda temos muitos descendentes, quase todos vindos dessa região daí do líbano, terra que eu adoro sem conhecer. Mas espero fazer uma visita a este amado país até o ano de 2013. Gostaria muito de localizar meus perentes (na minha família há Maluf, Simão, Salim, Abdalla,Daher, Saab). Há muito tempo eu sabia da existência de um primo de minha mãe chamado FELIPE, filho de Wady Simão , ou Wady Maluf ( a família é muito misturada). Este tinha uma irmã chamada Adletha, que morava na França. Felipe era o único contato que tínhamos com nossos familiares.
Minha avó era Málaque e mue avô Feres Metre. Meu tio Elias Abdalla Saab, de Beit Edine.
Tenho 58 anos, sou casado, tenho quatro filhas, a mais velha chama-se LAILA, nome de minha bisavó.
Tenho também um blog: betometri.blogspot.com.
um grande abraço.