Thursday, October 14, 2010
Indrani Sen's Interview
I was cleaning out my e-mails the other day and found this interview conducted by New York reporter, Indrani Sen. She came to discover Lebanon and it's rich culinary roots. She came to my house —we had a man'oushé-making session and of course we ate the product of our labor. I looked over the interview and thought it would be suitable to post on my blog.
Indrani Sen's interview with me:
1. When did you become interested in food and what sparked your interest?
My interest in food started early in my life. I can remember my father writing me a postcard from Paris, while on a business trip "YOUR SAUCE BOLOGNAISE WAS ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS". I was so touched by this compliment. I must have been about 8 or 9 years old. I was brought up in an atmosphere where food was not only to feed oneself but an art in itself. Later in my life, my father opened a restaurant when I was fifteen years old and I worked there after school for three years. So I guess you can say, my interest in food has always existed.
2. How did you get the idea to write about man'oushé?
The idea to dedicate a whole book on man'oushé came about from a romantic dream I used to have. The dream was to make a thorough research on the pizza and the people behind this legendary pie. After having my three children, making dough became a passion. One day, after finishing a training in a restaurant, I woke up with the idea of doing a research on the man'oushé and disregarding the idea that the grass is always greener on the other side. What was available here in Lebanon was pretty magnificent— I just had to go and search for it—and that's what I did...
3. And mouneh?
The mouneh is the traditional Lebanese pantry. Being a fervent believer in everything that comes from the pantry. It was obvious that this was indeed my next step. The mouneh research is harder because there are so many subjects in so many different areas: dairy, pickling, jams, preserves, dried fruits and vegetables, etc...As the motto says, "SUCESS IS NOT THE DESTINATION, IT'S THE JOURNEY". I am learning a lot and having a great time doing it.
4. Why did you choose those two subjects, instead of other aspects of Lebanese cooking?
The journey is not over, I hope it's only the beginning. I will devote myself entirely to all aspects.
5. What is different about the relationship the Lebanese have with food, compared with other countries?
Food for Lebanese is everything. It's a way to be hospitable, it's a way to be sociable, it's a way to be creative, it's a way to be focused. Food is a celebration for the Lebanese— it can become their reason of being.
6. What role does food have in your household?
Food plays a very important role in our household. My son is very much interested in the culinary arena and not only does he love to help me cook, but he loves to EAT! My husband always says" If my wife is happy, the food is great; if she is sad, the food is not so great". It makes you think of that special ingredient that makes homemade food so special....My two daughters have a replica of our real kitchen in their playroom and play hours serving all kinds of delicious make-believe food to their dolls.I guess food definitely plays an important role in our family life.
In the kitchen of our summer home, baking our Sunday breakfast— man'oushé!