Cooking with Heart

post 250/365

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There are places that you remember, not particularly because they have a lavish décor but because there is something quite humane about them.

Driving on the windy sea road that leads to the North past Jbeil, in a beautiful little seaside town called Amchit, hidden in a small alley neighboring the gas tanks stands a humble little bakery called Furn el Sabaya, the young women’s oven.

Coming from a large family where the girls dominated the scene, the nickname for their household was “beit el sabaya” (the young women’s house). Their friends and family would say “rayheen 3ind el sabaya” (we are going to the young women), and that’s how 22 years ago on the 1st of May Furn el Sabaya, with its catchy name, was born.

Their love of the kitchen and baking is something they inherited from their mother having assisted her for many years in the kitchen.

Born and bred in Amchit, Lorenza and Martha Zgheib along with their cousin Lucy form the main team behind the bakery. On religious holidays and when special orders are made, all the women that are part of their lives, from the rest of the sisters, to their sister in law, the nieces, friends, and the cousins pitch in to help, creating a web of stories and life spun around the love of food in this small seaside town called Amchit.

They started by creating manakish while focusing on the Amchit’s culinary heritage, the mwara’a (the papery one) and the ors el beid (the egg’s piece)

The mwara’a consists of thin dough filled with a mix of almonds, walnuts and orange blossom. It’s not that easy to prepare and they have a special way to roll the dough before putting it in the oven so the sugar stays inside the dough.

The ors el beid is made by putting the dough for a little while in the oven and then taking it out, pinching the sides of it, and adding the mix of eggs, mint, salt and a pinch of pepper on it and then putting it back in the oven. It comes out a little like an omelet.

This is the story of the Zgheib family, of three women united, who wake up daily with one single aim to bake the best that their land can offer, they take pride in their artisanal food and the produce they use to create it.

In Amchit, among the little alleyways, three women have managed with their love of hospitality, food, and their zeal for life and the love for creating honest food to bring about a small community of like-minded people who share their passion for producing out of the humblest product something that is very much Lebanon and more specifically very much Amchit.

Dressed in white, with their lovely smiles and low tone voices, the serene air that surrounds them and the joy and pride in which they work, they are very much part of what makes Amchit worth a visit.

Furn el sabaya is open everyday from the early morning till 2.

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