There are many roles in which food could play in our social lives. Food has a certain power beyond its physical purposes; not only can it satisfy, but it can inspire, inform and unify people. It evokes creativity and grounds us to our culinary heritage and our land.
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.
“Lebanon’s exceptional location and its singular morphology have contributed to making it a hub of botanic biodiversity. It is one of the nuclear centers of genetic species of wheat, barley, lentils and vetch, their cultivation dating back more than 5,000 years. Other agricultural species originating from Lebanon include olives, figs, grapes, pomegranates and carob. Foods made from these plants lie at the basis of the local culinary traditions.
Shankleesh is the only mold ripened cheese native to the Middle East. It is believed to have originated among the Kurdhish al Zankieen tribes. It is essentially yogurt whey that is shaped into smooth balls by hand, then either ripened for a few days and consumed (green shankleesh) or aged for up to 16 weeks, traditionally in clay jars called baresh.
Labneh (strained yogurt) is a daily food in the Lebanese diet and known by everyone and mainly eaten at breakfast. Go deeper in the country, into the Bekaa Valley or the Shouf Mountains, and another delicacy will unfold made in a terra-cotta bowl (labnet al jarra), where baladi and shami goats are respectively the main grazing animals that produce it.
There is an intimate connection between food, seasons, and land that is universal. As the seasons change so does the earth, the air, the animals, and our body start to require different types of food. Somehow we are all connected on this little planet and what influences one, influences the other.