Chickpeace

In my last 34 years, I never understood the issue of the Middle East, I recall growing up hearing about Beirut, the torn-capital of Lebanon; at a very young age, I had no clue what a capital meant to a country. For me, my country was Zahle, and its capital was the church of St…

Köfte, Keftedes, kafta

It’s 1pm in Turkey and I just landed in Istanbul. I spent my first expensive 120 Turkish Liras on a private Taxi to Fendekzade. Abdulrahman; a Turkish driver with a perfect Jordanian dialect escorted me to my hotel & suggested to share a seafood platter for dinner; with my perfect Zahle dialect I gently responded…

A war survival kit

I started reading “Day of Honey” A Memoir of Food, Love, and War Book by Annia Ciezadlo. Married to a Lebanese journalist from New York city; Annia spent some times in Lebanon developing an extensive Lebanese culinary experience from her mother in law; while her husband was covering the war in Iraq. The book triggered…

Tabbouli Syndrome

I’ve seen it all: Tropical tabbouli…Shoot me! Curry tabbouli…Bury me alive! Tabbouli tikka masala…Now seriously kiss my ass! In my first visit to Sydney, my eyes fell on pineapple pieces on top of a dying tabbouli. It seemed more like a forced marriage between the two, where tabbouli decided to commit suicide…well, I would do…

Shakira visits Zahle

As soon as the announcement was made in the media that Shakira is visiting her father’s hometown of Zahle; regardless of “minee hay Shakira?!” (who is this Shakira!?”); an opportunity to celebrate raised between residents whispering “bent Mubarak jeyeh tzourna men amerka” (the Mubarak Daughter is visiting us from America). Colombia you mean? Wlak eh Amerka!…

Apricot Jam

Every morning, “Uncle Fayez” used to drive his white Volkswagen school van and pick up students living in Mar Elias area, including my brother and myself. Considering my width and height back then, I used to sit in the booth of the van and wait with anticipation for Uncle Fayez to finish his rotation; as…

Lebanese Bread & Breakfast

To begin with the Lebanese cuisine, one must not ignore the Lebanese bread which is the main utensil used to wipe off the wide range of mezze dishes, followed by fingers and tongues to lick off any remaining drips and sauces. Click here to watch The making of Lebanese Saj Bread (source: Annahar) When I…

Last stop: Lebanon

My last stop is my birth place city of Zahle; recently known as the city of gastronomy awarded by UNESCO; and the city of love, awarded by me. I was born in the very humble neighborhood of Mar Elias el-mkhalsiyeh (St Elie du St. Sauveur) where everyone was my father, mother, aunty, uncle, brother, and…

5th stop: Italy

My understanding of Italian cuisine was limited to pizza with Ketchup and overcooked pasta until I met Marta in 2010. Marta is a beautiful yet arrogant Italian who believes that God himself is made in Italy. This particular year marked the beginning of a major culinary transition in my own cooking when I got to…