He gets up early, 5:30 sharp to be exact. At 6:00 he opens the doors to his sweet shop in Basta el faw’a to get that fresh air from the slow-waking city. For just a little while, time stands still and he starts his preparation for a day of stirring and cooking allowing him to take in this life with a deep inhale and appreciation of this skill he has perfected over he years.
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.
Lebanese pastries are a pure delight. Originally, our ethnic pastries used to be very sweetened. Today, and since a decade or so, they are made with lesser sugar. Lebanese sweets are a landmark in our country’s culinary journey, and are among the best in our region and have landed a world renowned fame for some families who have been in the business for generations.
The many charms of Lebanese food is its varied desserts, rich, sweet, and full of flavors. Sometimes a name can elevate and carry a certain resonance to something so simple. This amazingly aromatic dessert that is quite refreshing with a rich complex taste stemming from subtle hints of Mastic (Arabic Gum), orange blossom water and rose water carries a poetic name that speaks volumes about our culture.
Days before a woman is about to give birth, the whiff of cinnamon and caraway start filling the house with their comforting aromas full of warm spicy notes. No Lebanese baby can be welcomed into this world, without the proper and best Meghlé. This dessert is a rice pudding made from rice flour, sugar and cinnamon with ornaments of desiccated coconut flakes, pistachios, walnuts, almonds and pine nuts making it one fancy dessert reserved for such delightful occasions. It is infused with the warming flavors of cinnamon, caraway and anise. This exotic dessert is a taste of our culture, and insight into our spice-filled way of life.