The Eternal Sisters

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The Sisters or The Sisters Olive Trees of Noah are tucked away in the sleepy village of Bechealeh, in the North of Lebanon. They are a grove of sixteen olive trees, the oldest olive trees in the world, that have witnessed 5000 years of political unrest, plagues, diseases, varying climatic conditions and changing civilizations. The Sisters’ are said to be from an undocumented olive tree variety, an ancestor of the Balasi Ayrouni. They remain one of the great unresolved and virtually unexplored pre-Biblical mysteries; common folklore and a few Biblical Scholars believe that these are the trees from which the dove took the branch back to Noah when the deluge subsided.

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The Tanjara

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Because nothing says I love you like a warm wrapped tanjara straight from your mom’s stove, this post is dedicated to all the loving mothers in Lebanon and there are plenty of them out there. A Lebanese mom’s biggest fear is that you or your family might die of starvation. She will do absolutely everything to make sure that you and your family are well fed. Continue reading

The Marathon

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The marathon is a long-distance running event with an official distance of 42.195 kilometers usually run as a road race. The event was instituted in commemoration of the fabled run of the Greek soldier Pheidippides, a messenger from the Battle of Marathon to Athens. The marathon was one of the original modern Olympic events in 1896.

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The 3 Kisses

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The rule of 3 pervades a lot in our business and social lives. In literature you’ll find three little pigs, the three musketeers, and three wishes granted to Aladdin. Artists are familiar with 3 primary colors and 3 secondary colors. In science Newton discovered Three laws. At the dinner table you will find 3 pieces of cutlery. Most flags have 3 colors. There are 3 medals in the olympics. Three wise men appeared with 3 gifts for baby Jesus. The U.S and the French declaration of rights are based on 3 words, life, liberty, and happiness for the Americans and Liberty, equality, and fraternity for the french.

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The Land of Plenty

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Lebanon, which has a variety of agricultural lands, from the interior plateau of the Bequaa valley to the narrow valleys leading downward to the sea, enables farmers to grow all kinds of crop. Tobacco and figs are grown in the south, citrus fruits and bananas along the coast, olives in the north and around the Shouf Mountains, and fruits and vegetables in the Beqaa Valley. More exotic crops include avocados, grown near Byblos. The very rare combination of clay/silty soil, calcareous water, and an average of 300 days of Mediterranean sunshine provides an environment in Lebanon for outstanding full flavoured fruits and vegetables. The fact that Lebanon has an area of 10452 km2 makes it possible for us to eat fresh produce all year long.

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Fayrouz

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Nouhad Haddad, famously known as Fayrouz, meaning Turquoise gemstone is certainly one of the greatest Arab singers of the 20th century. A true gem, whose songs have become the soul of her country.

It was Lebanon’s civil war, from 1975 to 1990, that both shattered the country’s tolerant society and cemented Fayrouz’s reputation, refusing to leave the country, as a cultural symbol beloved by Arabs of any political or religious stripe. When shellfire ripped through Beirut and its residents cowered in their basements, radio stations of all persuasions broadcasted her plaintive ode to the city called Li Beirut, (To Beirut).

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The Barbers, Beirut’s Last Gentlemen

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The 1880s to the 1960s were the golden age for barbershops. During this time, men socialized in all-male hangouts. Visiting the barbershop was a weekly, and sometimes daily habit. Men would stop in, not only for a haircut and a shave, but also to fraternize with friends. Things have shifted over the years and somehow our barbershops are being less and less frequented specially by the younger generation.

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Sursock Museum

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The Sursock mansion, completed in 1912, is an ornate, white wedding cake of a building. It combines Venetian and Ottoman architectural styles. The building is a melange of influences, much like Beirut. Originally the residence of aristocratic art-lover Nicolas Sursock, it was bequeathed to the city on his death in 1952. When it opened as a museum in 1961. The mansion housed exhibitions from artists in the Middle East and around the world, as well as the prestigious Salon d’Automne for local figures. It’s finally open again after 8 years of renovation and a 12 million$ lift.

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The Mezze

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Like most Mediterranean countries, much of what we eat is dictated by the seasons. Lebanese recipes are a rich mixture of a variety of ingredients that come from all the regions. It is known that each area has its special dishes that reflects the culture of the area.
Mezze, is an array of small dishes placed before the guests creating an array of colors, flavors, textures and aromas. This style of serving food brings people together over a table where they share dishes, ask for plates to be passed on. Discussions, jokes, and heated conversations fall in between “oh but you should try this.” It’s a reflection of the social pleasure that Lebanese get out of food.

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