Lebanese Food / Wine and Culinary Traditions

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

Saturday, December 20, 2014

A Message of Hope

Another year has passed in my life... So many changes have occurred. I learned so much about humanity and how we are linked to each other. Unfortunately, we do what is important to the "ME" and all else is secondary. After all, we are humans.

I am aloud to write this on my blog, because it belongs to me and no one else.

Wars are continuing, people are dying, families are dispersed, politicians (not all) are playing with the masses to fill their pockets - here in Lebanon and all over the world. It kills me to see the environment destroyed, animals enslaved, natural beauty destroyed and all types of world heritage eliminated.

And yet, in spite of it all, we are programed to continue and look for a ray of hope, to keep walking and to be positive.

2015 shall be a constructive year for me. I've decided. It's in my hands now. I will mingle with the people I love most, the shepherds of the mountains who know the real meaning of life. Despite the fact that it is dangerous to roam around my country, I shall roam and discover foods and people to document our treasured culinary heritage. I will take my camera and shoot everything in sight to document my journey and to share it with my fans. I won't let the exterior break me. I will build and give back to the community, to my family and to all who need it. My projects include 3 subjects for books (sometimes you have to give it your all and work under pressure to attain greatness) and to continue building Slow Food Beirut in Lebanon, no matter how difficult that task can be sometimes.

I want to wish my readers a peaceful and loving holiday season. May we all find that special place in our hearts where we find consolation and strength to build beauty and positive all around us. (Have to remind myself this also).

May God (whichever one you believe in) bless you and your family.

Warm regards,

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Lebanese Ministry of Health Declaration

Read this : It pertains to what has been declared by the ministry of health about food in Lebanon in supermarkets and restaurants. Anyway, I am writing my opinion on this blog. If help is needed to make a thorough study and implementation on food safety in Lebanon, I'm willing to help. This is not the way that this issue should have been tackled. Lebanon is corrupted in so many ways, let's try to work on the problem instead of pointing the finger. Let's work on solutions. We know the problems are there. We've known all along. The government needs to work on a precise plan to avoid such incidences that only harm us as a country.

I wrote this on Facebook earlier when I read this...

On these good words or bad words, I shall go out tonight to a restaurant with my hubby in Beirut, Lebanon and eat GOOD FOOD. This is a crying shame. We should start by implementing rules and regulations then blaming those that don't abide. When I saw that Kebabji was on the list then I began to really doubt this report. I have visited the cold rooms and kitchens of Kebabji and I can tell you that a hospital kitchen may not have the standards they abide by... So did we really need this explosion now when the country is going to HELL? Did we need to chase out the few adventurous tourists? Was it the right way to handle the situation, I really don't think so. We need to educate, teach, set rules then act accordingly. This is how it is done in civilized countries. Start from the beginning not the other way around. This is my opinion. Could not keep it in. Voila! Having said that: the best way to know where your food comes from is to grow it yourself. Am I too idealistic, you bet your ass I am. This is where I am heading baby, one day, very soon! Eat local, befriend a farmer. Ask him to raise cows or sheep or anything you fancy only for you. Why do Lebanese spend so much money on cars, clothes, etc and not on good, clean and fair foods they put in their bodies. REVOLUTION! I'm ready! Abou Faour let's meet!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Gastronomy Journey in India

This is the idea... thanks to my association with Sana & Myriam Voyages (with over 25 years of experience), I will be able to be your tour guide to visit India with your palate. Please reserve early, as I don't want to take on too many people on my first culinary trip. I can't wait!!!!

Voyages Sana & Myriam & Barbara

A Gastronomy Journey in India

12 to 20 February 2015

February 12 Departure from Beirut

Departure from Beirut international

February 13 Arrival to Delhi

Arrival to Delhi. Check in at The Taj Mahal hotel. www.tajhotels.com
In the afternoon, orientation tour of New Delhi and visit of Qutab Minar monument and Dilli Haat market for ethnic shopping. Traditional Kashmiri dinner hosted by a family.

Overnight at Taj Mahal hotel.

February 14 Delhi
Tea tasting with Vikram Mittal in the morning. Visit of the handicraft museum and Humayun’s tomb. Lunch at the famous South India restaurant Sarvana Bhawan. Meet with the chefs.

Spice market visit and dinner at Manor restaurant, the best fusion Indian food of Delhi with culinary demonstration. Overnight at Taj Mahal hotel.

February 15 Delhi

In the morning, heritage and street food walk of Old Delhi. Shopping time in the afternoon and dinner at Bukhara, the best tandoori restaurant of Asia!

Overnight at Taj Mahal hotel.

February 16 Delhi – Agra

Transfer to Agra by coach (3.30 hrs drive). Arrival and check in at the Oberoi-Trident of Agra. www.tridenthotels.com

In the afternoon, visit of the sumptuous Agra Fort and of the most romantic monument dedicated to love, the Taj Mahal. Dinner and overnight at hotel.

February 17 Agra - Jaipur

Departure to Jaipur by coach (5 hrs drive). En route visit of Fatehpur Sikri, the abandoned city of the great Mogul emperor, Akbar. Lunch en route and arrival to Jaipur. Check in for two nights at hotel Oberoi -Trident www.tridenthotels.com. Dinner and overnight at hotel Trident.

February 18 Jaipur

After breakfast, visit of Amber Palace, the summer residency of Jaipur kings.

Lunch at Samode Haveli with a cooking demonstration. Rickshaw tour in the busy streets of Jaipur. Special Rajasthani dinner at Dera Mandawa. Dinner and overnight at hotel Trident.

February 19 Jaipur

Visit of the landmarks of the city of Jaipur, the City Palace, the Hawa Mahal and the observatory.

Lunch at Naila private Fort and meeting with chefs. Dinner and overnight at hotel Trident.

February 20 Back home

Early morning transfer to the airport to catch your flight back home.


US$ 3500 per person on twin sharing basis

US$ 2750 per person on twin sharing basis (without international ticket and visa fees)

Single room supplement – US$ 750

Business class supplement: upon availability

Tour cost Includes:
  • International flight tickets
  • Accommodation in mentioned hotels
  • Meals as per program
  • Transfers & tours in India by Deluxe Air Condition Large Coach
  • Accompanying English speaking guide for entire itinerary
  • Baggage carrier, parking, assistance and taxes at all places.
  • Visas fees
  • Insurance fees
  • All current taxes as of date including Govt. service tax.( 5.9%)
Excludes :

a) Any Personal Expenses like Laundry, telephone calls , liquor, etc.

b) Anything which is not included in" Includes" column.

  • A first deposit of US$ 1000 per person is required on registration with the photocopy of the passport.
  • Final payment to be made on 15 December, 2014.
  • 1000 US$ is non refundable in case of cancellation one month before departure.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

India on my Mind

Something happens to you when you visit India, it's a virus that invades your whhole body and leaves you restless for more....

to be continued...

I have an idea...will keep you posted.

A Humanitarian Effort - Soup for Syria

I would like to write about our project Soup for Syria. This cookbook effort is being carried out as a humanitarian effort to help families in distress.
It is not a political statement or a direct affiliation to any party.
I personally believe in peace among all brothers on this earth regardless of their nationality, creed, sex... etc... A family of 12 is living under a plastic tent, eating bread ...only!!!... and burning whatever is available in the garbage to heat themselves (poisonous fumes in the tent) ! This is unacceptable!
'I have traveled all around the country and have met all communities. They have all treated me as one of theirs. I am Lebanese. I have eaten with all and have been invited by all to come again. What makes us so special as Lebanese is our differences and how we can live together in a small country. No fanaticism required from any creed. Any human being is entitled to a minimum of dignity, we cannot turn a blind eye on this.
This is the key to peace.

What do children have to do with war?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Zizo Lebanese Restaurant in New Delhi India

Inline image 2

India is calling me!!!! Flying off to my dream destiny (India) to the launching of ZIZO.... get it, like Zizzzz....the beetle...

I will take photos of the food!

Fouad Abdel Malak, CEO of ZIZO restaurant: "I'm helping to bring a timeless slice of Lebanon to India through a fast-casual restaurant franchise concept I helped create. “Zizo is a fast casual dining experience that presents a timeless slice of authentic Lebanon, with a healthy modern twist. Everything we create is hand-made with the freshest locally sourced ingredients; served in our uncompromising style of light-hearted, contemporary hospitality.”

"I want to ensure people have access to good wholesome food at a reasonable price point, all while extending authentic Lebanese hospitality and culture the world. " — traveling to New Delhi, India.

http://zizo.in/ please listen to the Zizo song, it is soooo cute!!!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Eating is a Sacred Act

Eat foods that are in alignment with our spiritual values-don't involve exploitation of the earth, workers, or animals.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Apricot Jam in Ballouneh

Every year the Massaad family heads to the mountains to our summer house. It's a time of reflection, slowing down and enjoying nature's bounty. This year Mother Nature was very kind to us. We have two apricot trees blooming with large fruit. It's a joy to pick them and make my favorite jam. I have so many pots now that I think I am going to give away jars as people come to visit us this summer.

Sarah, my daughter took this photo of me
 The recipe is quite simple. Pick the apricots, wash them under cold running water. Cut open the fruit. Watch out for worms, yes these critters love the taste of apricots. Weigh the cut fruit. Add 1/2 kg of sugar for each kilo of fruit. Some add more (700 g to 1 kg, which I think is excessive). Leave to rest for a few hours or overnight. This will give the fruit enough time to soak in the sugar, the result is beneficial to obtain enough liquid to cook the apricots. Start cooking on high fire, when boiling starts you can lower the fire. Stick around and mix carefully using a wooden spoon. You don't want the fruit to stick to the bottom of the cooking pan. Cook until the mixture becomes thick. Add the juice of 1/2 lemon for every kg of fruit. You may want to put the jam in the hot sun during the day to ensure that the liquid is evaporated. Don't forget to put the jam inside during the night. The consistency of the jam depends on your preference. It has to set but you can choose to have it thicker or looser. I prefer the jam to be loose. It just melts in your mouth.

Enjoying my summer with my dog Belle

I eat apricot jam now with labneh every morning. The mixture of both (sweet / sour) is excellent!
Try it.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

My Lebanon

The situation in Lebanon is getting harder and harder... As I struggle to keep an image of what Khalil Gibran wrote at the beginning of the century and yet still applies today ... This image is fading from my memory quickly. What can I do to keep it alive, to continue dreaming, to keep faith? I feel helpless struggling to ignore the corruption, the disrespect of nature and men, the chaos.

" You have your Lebanon and I have mine. You have your Lebanon with her problems, and I have my Lebanon with her beauty. You have your Lebanon with all her prejudices and struggles, and I have my Lebanon with all her dreams and securities. Your Lebanon is a political knot, a national dilemma, a place of conflict and deception. My Lebanon, is a place of beauty and dreams of enchanting valleys and splendid mountains. Your Lebanon is inhabited by functionaries, officers, politicians, committees, and factions. My Lebanon is for peasants, shepherds, young boys and girls, parents and poets. Your Lebanon is empty and fleeting, whereas My Lebanon will endure forever."

As these positive words resonate in my inner conscience... They are fading away quickly. We have not learned from the past. We keep repeating the same mistakes, over and over again. We destroy the bounty of our land - nature, our most important heritage for quick money to be able to live in a society where one is judged by how much worldly goods one has. Let's not kid ourselves, finally it's all about money - the god of our century (not only in Lebanon but everywhere in the world).

What can be done to make a difference? How will we safeguard our country for the next generation? Will our children all become eligible for immigration? Will they become orphans in new territories where hope still lies?

It's becoming harder to stay positive. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Booklist's Man'oushe Book Review

A review that just came in from the American Library Association’s Booklist magazine for the book Man'oushe:

“Despite the dislocation caused by its civil war and the continuing conflict with its neighbor to the south, Israel, Lebanon has managed to nurture its justly admired culinary traditions. Among these institutions are the city’s bakeries, each unique to its neighborhood and serving deliciously fragrant breads and pastries. Massaad’s book celebrates these bakeries and teaches how to replicate their products in a contemporary American kitchen. Specifically, man’oushé refers to breakfast bread, a disc of flat bread perfumed with sesame and wild thyme. Working from just several basic yeast doughs, Massaad shows how to form and bake a host of Lebanese breads and meat pies. A reasonably adept home baker will find Massaad’s recipes easy to follow, and thanks to the Internet, assembling ingredients is not a burdensome challenge. The book’s full-color photographs bring into focus not just the foods but also the lively characters who constitute a remarkably diverse nation. Especially useful for libraries with significant Middle Eastern immigrant populations.”


Man'oushe in the USA at Barnes & Nobles

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Soup for Syria in Revolt Magazine

Read the interview I had with Revolt magazine concerning my new book project Soup for Syria. 

© Barbara Massaad - Syrian Mother and child in a refugee camp in Lebanon.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Mezze : Shortlisted in the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards

Mezze : A Labor of Love has been nominated on the short-list of the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. It is competing with these books. Awards will be decided in May. May the best win!


- Albania – Kuzhne Mesdhetare, Katerina Gremo, Mirela Vasili (Mali Peshti)
- Australia - Colour of Maroc, Rob and Sophia Palmer (Murdoch Books)
- Canada – Three Sisters back to the Beginning, Bakopoulos (Adelfos)
- France – Passedat (Flammarion)
- Israel – A Week in Lesbos, Adi Strauss, Jonathan Roshfeld, Ron Kedmi
(Adi’s Lifestyle)
- Lebanon – Mezze, Barbara Abdeni Massaad (Massaad)
- Spain – Oleum – La Cultura del Aceite de Oliva, Carlos Falco,
Marqués de Griñon (Grijalbo)

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Cookbook effort aims to feed Syrian refugees

Cookbook effort aims to feed Syrian refugees 
This is the link to the article that was printed yesterday in Lebanon's Daily Star.

January 29, 2014 12:35 AM
By Brooke Anderson

The Daily Star

BEIRUT: Last month, as people across the Lebanon huddled under their covers trying to keep warm during a brutal winter storm, Barbara Abdeni Massaad was at home in Beirut thinking of those who must be suffering even more from the cold – Syrian refugees in makeshift tents in the Bekaa Valley. She had to act. “It was very cold that week. I thought: What about the people in the Syrian camps? I couldn’t sleep. I had to do something. Everyone has to do something,” she says, sitting at her booth at the farmers market in Hamra where she runs the Slow Food Foundation, which aims to promote wholesome and traditional food.

This is where she sells her cookbooks every Tuesday morning and where she also collects clothing donations which she distributes to Syrian refugees. It is also where at the end of the year she will be selling a new self-published book of soup recipes whose proceeds will go to Syrian refugees, whose plight she says is the worst she has seen in her 25 years of living in Lebanon after having moved here from the U.S.

“If I were a barber, I would go and cut their hair for free. But I write cookbooks, so I did a book. I decided to do soup,” says Massaad, who has been a serious cook since the age of 15. “The most 
important thing is empathy. We can’t be indifferent.”

On her book’s Facebook page, Soup for Syria, she quotes Matt Flannery, founder of the micro-finance group Kiva: “Whatever your skill, whatever your expertise, there’s a way to apply that to help people you care about.” She also quotes he 13th-century Sufi mystic Rumi as saying, “If you have much, give of your wealth. If you have little, give of your heart.”

With this book, which she believes could generate thousands of dollars, her goal is to raise money to build a temporary pop-up kitchen in the Bekaa town of Zahleh, where Syrian refugees can have wholesome hot soups such as lentil and vegetable – the same recipes likely to make it into the book. Other proceeds would go directly to refugees to pay for their needs. And while the book will be in English, she might have it translated to Arabic to distribute among interested Syrians depending on the project’s success.

“My dream is to give them a kitchen where they can have healthy meals,” she says. “There’s a war and people shouldn’t go without food.”

So far, the response to her endeavor has been enthusiastic, with people eager to give their time and skills in the printing and recipe contributions. She has already started getting contributions from Lebanese farmers who sell their goods at the market. She is expecting more submissions from local chefs, restaurateurs and foodies. The soups will all be regional dishes that can be made with local ingredients so that Syrians themselves can make them.

“The book won’t be too sophisticated. I want the Syrians to be able to make the soups,” she says.
Massaad also wants the project to be a message to everyone that they can use their time and skills to help Syrian refugees.

“I want the world to see what’s happening here and I want to show rich countries that this is not permissible in 2014,” she says.