The Lady of Gubla

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The city of Gubla is said to be the first city in the world in Greek legend. Founded as a settlement at some point around 5000 BC, Byblos was originally home to a small Neolithic fishing community. The first signs of a town appeared in the third millennium BC. By the beginning of the Early Bronze Age in 3000 BC, it was a prosperous Canaanite city with one of the most important export, the cedar trees of Lebanon to Egypt in exchange for papyrus, ivory, ebony and gold, making it one of the most important trading centers on the coast with close ties to the fourth dynasty Egypt. Egyptian influence can be seen in its art and its religion. Trade goods from as early as Egypt’s 2nd dynasty have been found there.

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Coming Home

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In my dreams, I see my homeland;

Far too long I’ve been away.

Land of wondrous charm and beauty,

Far from her, my skies are gray.

Land, which gave me love and nurture,

Here, in which my life began,

How I long for Lebanon,

Many splendored native land.

This, the land of my forefathers,

This, the soil from which I grew,

This, in my heart ever precious,

The only home I ever knew.

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A Weekend in the Shouf

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There is a certain serenity that settles on the mountains of the Shouf where land, sky and the blue horizon congregate. Behind the huge public square or midan, the Kharj Barracks, a beautiful architectural structure with an open courtyard and surrounded by volts stands still untouched by modernity. This massive structure was built by Fakhreddine II in 1616 as a munitions warehouse and barracks and remodeled into a food storehouse mainly for soldiers under Bechir III Chehab (1840 – 1842). It has taken a new life now, restored, this monument is the stunning setting of the French Cultural Center where cultural and social events take place. We spent a night there with the kids watching football. It was one of those nights where the open dark skies, the stars so clearly visible, and the crescent of the moon stood next to each other peacefully painting a picture perfect night. Sitting in its womb, one could get a sense of the culture and people that still inhabit this land.

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The Beauty of Foraging

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The joy of wild food is about discovery, Harvesting wild food is the oldest and most basic subsistence activity of humankind, but today we live in a world where these skills are almost lost. Foraging is the missing link in modern civilized cultures–it is this direct physical connection, in the form of sustenance that brings us to our deepest appreciation and understanding of the natural world.

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The Modernist

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Lost in a flat surface where conundrum of colors take shape, the emotional overtones of expressionism come through to us from those visions of beauty created by the great Saliba Douaihy. His paintings although ultra modern somehow break away from what might seem the coldness of modernism by beautiful interruptions of his geometric lines with unexpected projections, and sensuous curves. With a minimum of flat colors he has been able to create a harmony and order, moving and motionless, where light and dark, shadows and hues of sunlight congregate creating scenes of pure esthetic beauty.

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The Masters of Baklava

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The Baklava (be’lewa as we call it in Lebanon), as we know it today, was perfected by Middle Eastern pastry makers, especially Lebanese who developed the process of layering the ingredients. This pastry is made of wheat flour, butter and milk with some salt, then sweetened with sugar and stuffed, or topped, with sweetened pistachios. The preparation is more complex: The dough is made into thin layers. Each is brushed with butter, or oil, and placed on top of the other until obtaining multiple layer dough.

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