Lebanese Food / Wine and Culinary Traditions

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

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

TV Again...

Oum Ali mixes different flavors as the cheese is finished cooking
 I'm starting my culinary journey segments again on Helweh el Hayat on LBC again (3rd round) ... Yesterday, we visited Mona El Dorr (Oum Ali). We learned how to make cheese at home, simply using yogurt as a starter or lemon juice. She makes different variations flavored with red pepper paste, rosemary, freshly ground pepper, basil, and nigella seeds. We finished our shooting with a session of bread-baking on the saj while devouring hot cheese wraps. Awesome!
Oum Ali is a food producer who showcases her art at Souk el Tayeb and at the Slow Food Earth Market every week (rain or shine). She works a lot to make ends meet, raising 4 children with dignity, love and values. I admire her and love her food. One of my favorite place to be in life is next to her while she bakes bread. She has a way of handling the dough and making the bread which relaxes you completely. We have shared many food adventures together, along with her partner Nelly Chemaly both in Lebanon and abroad. They are the founder of a small-scale company called Earth & Co.

Here is a glimpse:

Coffee is so much better when you share it with a friend
Cooking bread the old fashion way
Fresh cheese at Oum Ali's

Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Happy Customer

Every once in a while, I get a message through my website of a happy customer who writes about reading my books. Sometimes they come from far away lands, sometimes they are local readers. These messages touch me profoundly and make my work all worth while. I was especially touched last week by this particular message and asked the reader / customer if I could post it on my blog. She agreed and added more to her comment. Thanks Rudaina for taking the time to share your thoughts. I think she comes from the USA. Her words are very precious.

This is what she had to say:

"I have just ordered your 2 books and I cannot thank you enough. For many years , I have been interested in how to make our man'oushe and mouneh; but there were no resources and finally your book was a dream come true. I can see the tremendous effort and time it has taken to publish both of your books but it is worth every minute. In our region you rarely find books and resources that talk about the old fashion way of making things. Now and because of you , we have a remarkable book that has helped in preserving this nearly lost art. Your book not only shows Lebanese mouneh but the mouneh of neighboring countries like Syria,Jordan and Palestine since they are very similar in many things. It is also a friendly book that any housewife can understand and apply. You have taken great care for details and the pictures are so beautiful. To be honest,I only find Lebanese people to take the lead in many things and I hope you continue. Since both of your books are a gem I shall order another copy of each book . I only order 2 copies of a book when I see the book rare and hard to find. I look forward to other books you are going to publish. Do you have in mind publishing more books or a continuation of mouneh?"

I wrote her back and this is what she had to add:

"Oh yes you can use my message in any way you please but it won't be enough. Both of your books are fabulous. The Manoushe book I also had been looking for , for so many years. I always wondered how they made some foods that are sold on streets. Although the ingredients are all available in any house but when we –housewives- tried to make them , they had a different taste.You have written books about subjects that are rare and valuable. Not only have you shown us that but you also included beautiful pictures in your books that really capture the essence of the atmosphere and environment of the Lebanese and Middle Eastern culture. Every photo is so vivid and untouched. They are so powerful that they are capable of reflecting the actual lifestyle of the local people and by that it helps the reader feel what it is like to be in Lebanon and the Middle east without actually being there ( I say Lebanon and the Middle east meaning Jordan ,Syria and Palestine and even turkey especially the east part ) because they have lots of similarities in food and lifestyle). I have a friend who lives in Ohio and I am going to send her both of your books as a gift. She is close friend of mine who is interested in cooking and in the cultures of the world. Your books will be like 2 in 1 because they not only have recipes of a nearly lost art which thank to you, is revived again but she will also have a clear picture of our society and way of life in the rural parts of the land. When I do I shall write to you to tell you what she thinks about them. I am sure that I am going to love your next book, no doubt about that. I checked your blog and I saw that you have showed variations of hummus which I found very interesting and refreshing. You not only show the traditional way but other ways too and what is even more important is that they are delicious. I mean why have a variation of something if it is not going to yummy . It clear to everyone who reads your books that you have done lots of investigation, experimentation and documentation therefore it should be in the library of every culinary school and any organization that is interested in Heritage.Happy Cooking!"

Monday, January 21, 2013

Man'oushe's New Look

The book Man'oushe is going to be published very soon in the US, on the 15th of April to be precise.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Ibrahim Maalouf - Beirut

This music reaches the core of your soul. One condition: you have to be Lebanese! (just kidding).

Thursday, January 10, 2013

About Soup

"It breathes reassurance, it offers consolation; after a weary day it promotes sociability...There is nothing like a bowl of hot soup..." The Soup Book, Louis Degory.

Growing up, I would always tell my parents that soup warms my heart. I still believe that. Now I love to make peasant soups with beans and fresh vegetables, sometimes adding pieces of meat to make a rich stock. As you grow older and wiser, your soups reflect your wisdom.

"Soup is good food", a brilliant advertising slogan done for Campbell Soup ages ago. Too bad the content inside the cans don't reflect the slogan.

 When I invite people to my house, I always start with a bowl of soup (rain or shine). I remember once a guest who retorted, "soup in summer!", I bluntly blurted out in Arabic, "if it doesn't please you, just leave!". You can guess my diplomacy level (quite low). Anyway, the guest in question turned out to be very kind and appreciated the soup finally.

I will finish my thought on soup with this: " To invite a person into your house is to take charge of his happiness for as long as he is under your roof". A. Brillat-Savarin

 So true... so true...

Found in Pinterest

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Conosci Il Tuo Pasto Guide 2013

Just received my copy, check it out! Lebanese restaurants and producers are included.

My friend Veronica is a passionate person about food who is working on this project, she sent me this piece of information that I wanted to share with you all... We often joke to each other that she is the Italian Barbara and that I am the Lebanese Veronica... One thing for sure we love FOOD!

Restaurants & Food, Conosci il tuo pasto the Guide 2013

Completely free, online and optimised for I-Phone, available both in Italian and English. On the blog www.conosciiltuopasto.it has just been published the third edition of the Guide Conosci il tuo pasto “Restaurants & Food 2013”, a guide to quality Mediterranean, certified and guarantee restaurants and food.

In the Guide is possible to find all those restaurants that reached the Cockerels and the Green Leaves for the year 2013 thanks to the ingredients of their menus: organic and local products, Slow Food presidia, Geographical Indications and products from the Fair Trade Commerce, and also a selection of new restaurants directly nominated by the public and candidate for the certification. More than this: all the addresses of the ice creams parlours certified by IMC – Istituto Mediterraneo di Certificazione and of all the certified shops wherein is possible to buy organic, quality and local products.

“This year we decided to refresh the Guide concept to consent a faster consultation and to make it available for I Phone so that it would be at one’s fingertips all the time, even while travelling. We created a wider map; in fact, besides all the certified restaurants of the circuit Conosci il tuo pasto, ice cream parlours where to taste an organic ice cream and shops for those who like to buy organic and local products will be included – affirmed Veronica Pecorella, Guide and blog editor – Nowadays people are getting more and more careful and conscious: consolidating a circuit connected by a guarantee system, by a manifesto that expresses the idea of a new restaurant industry that should restart from agriculture and from a common willing to promote the territory is the real heart of Conosci il tuo pasto project. A project in which PARTICIPATION is the keyword and consumers, either adults or kids, comments are fundamental. I leave you with my best wishes, hoping that during these coming holidays we all would give to ourselves the possibilities of tasting and sustainable moments in the restaurants with the cockerels!”

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Support Local Farmers

The message is simple, eat food that is grown locally. Meet the person who grows your fruit and vegetables. Create a direct link between the one who is in touch with the earth to feed your mouth. Got it? I love this drawing.