Lebanese Food / Wine and Culinary Traditions

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

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Magdousheh in the Spring

Text taken from Mouneh - Preserving Foods for the Lebanese Pantry (2010 edition)

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 Amioun, 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.  

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.  

Mr. Hannah
The pride of a farmer
Let's try!
The smell of orange blossom simply takes you away
Together we stand
In town, flowers for sale
Oussama Amioun
Taking a break
First seller as you enter the town


Anonymous said...

ooooh... splendid nature and flowers!!! Thanks for sharing your trips to different parts of Lebanon with us. A bit of fresh air to those of us who have to live miles and miles away from this beautiful country.


E. Nassar said...

There is nothing as amazing as the smell of citrus blossoms in spring. I just posted about our backyard lemon tree on my blog and linked to your post. Thank you for sharing.