Sunday, April 18, 2010

Exploring Rustic Lebanese Foods

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Having practically never lived in Lebanon (well minus the first five years of my life), and relying mainly on memories from Summer vacations spent exploring my village in the mountains, I marvel at how connected I feel to the country and everything about it: good, bad or ugly.  Although most of my memories are phenomenal, I was never really interested in food.  In recent years, I have begun digging into our culinary traditions and find it fascinating how wide-ranging Lebanese food really is.  Forget Hummus and Falafel!  There is a vast culinary heritage that has been shaped over the centuries by the historical conquests on land (Turkish and French mainly).  

My journey through the Lebanese kitchen has been so fun and made even better when I get to read about and enjoy cherished rural recipes and street foods through recent books that my family brings me.

Some of my favorites are the two books I want to share with you below.



I love love love this book.  Did I say LOVE!  This is the quintessential book about Lebanese street/homey/breakfast/snack/eat-any-time food.  A well presented, well written, fun, full of authentic, rural recipes for a hands-down favorite food: The Beloved Man'oushé.   For those of you who are not Lebanese, a man'oushé is our version of a breakfast/snack pizza, but so much more.  It's so versatile and delicious, can be savory or sweet and has just an endless possibility for topping, rolling or shaping.
The author, Barbara Massaad,  also has a beautiful food blog, documenting her way through the Lebanese countryside. ( Wish I could tag along!)  Interested in getting this book, you can find it at Librairie Antoine.  You will definitely enjoy this one!



Now on to my other favorite book.  First, let me just say how much I adore this lady on the cover.  I don't know who she is, but wow, I just want to hug her, then have her cook me a meal.  Her eyes sparkle with life and that look reminds me a lot of my late Téta (grandmother) who had that same twinkle in her eyes.

This book is really cool, because it's packed with hardly seen recipes of the Lebanese repertoire.  It's rural, authentic, and rustic.  The recipes come directly from the farmers and the villagers who work the land, grow and eat the food, showcasing the traditional locavore way of life.  It's a whole different type of recipes than the typical Lebanese cookbook. Just a beautifully done book!  You can find this book through Librairie Antoine as well.

I hope you get your hands on these books soon, they will bring a smile to your face.

7 comments:

  1. I'm glad my trip half-way around the world to get you the Man'oushe book was not in vain. My only regret is not buying another copy for myself :) I guess I'll have to steal yours at some point...

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  2. Hahaha ... Thanks Dany, what are brothers for anyway! ;)

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  3. Hi Anita, although most of my life rotates around restaurants and food, but your description of the "Beloved Man'oushé" made my glands swell over it, so here we go, I am going to make one now. Tfadale, haha take care.

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  4. Thanks Ziad. You know, your man'oushés are pretty spectacular too, wish I could join you.

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  5. Next time we meet you're gonna teach me how to bake. Mr. Oven, you may have won the battles over the years, but I my friend, I will win the war!

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  6. I love how one can walk down the street in Syria or Lebanon and run into an oven/baker who specializes in making manousheh or sfiha or jibneh almost as frequently as one encounters fast food establishments in the States. Only, manoushe tastes infinitely better!

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  7. I have Barbara Massad's book in Beirut; I really enjoyed it too; I also have the second one, in French in BEirut and in English I gave it way a few weeks ago; so glad and proud to hear of your interest in your Lebanese culinary heritage! So many people don't give a hoot.

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