Lebanese Food and Culinary Traditions & Thoughts

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

Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas


It's Christmas morning, I was just awaken by a beautiful dream. I was walking in the streets of Tripoli (North of Lebanon) in the old souk. I see a shepherd coming with a flock of goats. Each goat is tied to another goat. People start pushing and shoving them, almost afraid. I start shouting to explain to everyone that goats are harmless and very friendly to humans. Why can't they understand? The shepherd approves and smiles at me, I rejoice when I see his eyes on me. He walks away with his herd, discreetly cutting off the rope to leave a baby goat with me. My heart rejoices, full of love and happiness—I am awaken by my daughter who is excited to open her presents. I feel enlightened by this message, this dream of hope.... A spiritual Christmas gift especially for me. Very symbolic, positive hope for the new coming year. God bless!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Barbara's Lebanese Mezze

Can you taste this hummus bi-tahineh?
 I have decided to dedicate a blog to the Lebanese Mezze. I am going to teach you (my readers) the steps to making your own Lebanese mezze from A to Z. I will discuss in detail each recipe with the flaws that you might encounter if you are not careful. We will share variations, creations, and regional differences among many subjects. This is a learning process both for me and for you. I am very excited to go through this discovery together. I expect a lot of comments and participation. If you have recipes to share, they are  most welcome. My aim is to reach 100 recipes to conclude this delectable research. One might never know, it might turn out to be one day a book! I want to celebrate local foods and the people that make it happen.

Monday, December 19, 2011

One Person's Food Vision in Beirut


The Brownbook Urban Series | Kamal Mouzawak from Brownbook Magazine on Vimeo.

This is an interesting video, depicting one man's food vision. It was done during the time when I had my Mouneh photo exhibition at Tawlet. I have one criticism though, the music—which is definately not Lebanese—does not correspond with the subject (at all!).

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Barbara Preparing Man'oushé with Fares Helwe Beirut



Fares has played an important role in my life. I met him because I was meant to become his apprentice. My Man'oushe book started in this small street corner bakery. Fares was generous with his time and his teachings were a must to begin my adventure. I visited over 250 bakeries throughout the country but his remains very special to me.

Majjounet Gardenia
Hazmieh
Fares Issaac: 03-304483

I would like to share with you what I wrote about him in Man'oushé: Inside the Street Corner Lebanese Bakery.

"On the same street, three shops down from the first bakery where my training started stands a small bakery owned by a man called Fares. I entered his bakery with the same scenario that I would present to each baker. He was friendly and answered all my questions. I asked him why he became a baker. He smiled. “This answer needs time.” I retorted, “I’ve got all the time you need!” 

It was raining outside and customers were scarce. Fares and I sat down in his bakery for three consecutive hours. As the story of his life unfolded before me, tears ran down my cheeks. 

Fares was born in Bayno ‘Akkar, in the extreme North of Lebanon. He comes from a poor family and is the youngest of eleven children. According to him, his mother had time and affection only for three. Fares’ father was a farmer working odd jobs that could not give his family financial stability. Life was hard. Fares’ early childhood memories are not happy ones. He quit school early. A family dispute at an early age led him to Beirut. At the age of eight, Fares found himself alone and scared at nightfall under a bridge. A woman in a nearby building offered him refuge for the night and helped him find a job in a factory.

This job didn’t last. Fares found work in a bread bakery. The owner asked him “What can you do, son?” Fares replied, “Anything at all!” This is where he learned the ropes to become a baker. 

The young boy became a man. With his savings, he took on the responsibility of opening his own bakery. He worked very hard, yet was fulfilled by his success.

On the same street, three shops down from the first bakery where my training started stands a small bakery owned by a man called Fares. I entered his bakery with the same scenario that I would present to each baker. He was friendly and answered all my questions. I asked him why he became a baker. He smiled. “This answer needs time.” I retorted, “I’ve got all the time you need!” 

It was raining outside and customers were scarce. Fares and I sat down in his bakery for three consecutive hours. As the story of his life unfolded before me, tears ran down my cheeks. 

Fares was born in Bayno ‘Akkar, in the extreme North of Lebanon. He comes from a poor family and is the youngest of eleven children. According to him, his mother had time and affection only for three. Fares’ father was a farmer working odd jobs that could not give his family financial stability. Life was hard. Fares’ early childhood memories are not happy ones. He quit school early. A family dispute at an early age led him to Beirut. At the age of eight, Fares found himself alone and scared at nightfall under a bridge. A woman in a nearby building offered him refuge for the night and helped him find a job in a factory.

This job didn’t last. Fares found work in a bread bakery. The owner asked him “What can you do, son?” Fares replied, “Anything at all!” This is where he learned the ropes to become a baker. 

The young boy became a man. With his savings, he took on the responsibility of opening his own bakery. He worked very hard, yet was fulfilled by his success."

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Barbara with Chef Giovanni Helwe Beirut



La pâte ... tu la sens ... tu la vis... translated the dough, you feel it ... you live it! I can really relate to what Giovanni is saying there. I have had this love affair with dough, the result ... all these years of research. He is such a character and it was really a pleasure to be in his restaurant Marguarita in Gemayzeh cooking up my favorite food in the world PIZZA. I'm not finished with this man (chef), I'm going to dig deeper and learn more ...

Monday, December 12, 2011

I'm Inspired


 I love the subject, the composition, the colors of this photo. Can anyone relate?

A goat walks in deserted school classroom in the village of Voynitsa, some 100 km (60 miles) north of the capital Sofia, at the heart of Bulgaria s northwestern region. AFP PHOTO/DIMITAR DILKOFF

Saj bread | خبز المرقوق



I was browsing through the internet, as one does during one's afternoon coffee break, and what do I see—
a romantic interpretation of the making of saj bread (paper thin bread). Wonderful! I love the music and I really believe that making bread on saj is an art. I am grateful to those who took the time and energy to record this video (Tinia Nassif - Al Nahar 2011), thanks!!!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Making of Kishk and Awarma in Helwe Beirut



I went to a lovely little village in the Kessouran still free from the "beton revolution" pretty much happening in many places all over our poor country. The name of the village is called Ain El Delbe, close to Wata Joz. I was accompanied by Francois Beaini who founded a small scale production of homemade mouneh items. He names his operation Mounetna - meaning our mouneh - our preserves. His parents were working on producing awarma and the drying of kishk. Quite impressive!

Mounetna is really about a family's yearly mouneh production which extended into a small family business. They grow fruits and vegetables in their lands and have always done so, like their ancestors. Francois, who is an employee at a local school, decided to open a small store in Sarba where the family lives in winter to sell his prized family mouneh. Visiting the store, you can tell that this is not only a business venture but somehow a passion for Francois and his family who have decorated the store with a lot of care and precision. I can't help but admire this family who work hand in hand. If you are interested to drop by, here are some contact information you may need:

Francois Beaini
03-741484
www.mounetnafood.com
info@mounetnafood.com