Mark Wiens

CELEBRATION OF FOOD – On my first day, actually first evening in Beirut, Lebanon, we tried over 25 different dishes – it was indeed a celebration of Lebanese food! For a long long time now, I’ve been a huge fan of Lebanese food. Even as a kid, I would go out to eat Lebanese food with my parents, and we’d some of the most common dishes like hummus, tabbouleh, baba ghanoush and shish taouk. So already with a love for Lebanese cuisine, I was thrilled to be in Beirut, Lebanon, for the first time, to try the real food!

What is Mezze? – Mezze is an entire culture of eating small dishes served as appetizers and salads. Along with a full mezze spread, it’s common to drink arak, a traditional Levantine spirit made from grapes and aniseed.

Abou Hassan Restaurant (https://goo.gl/maps/X9PMsa54MHgekLrg9) – Maya brought us to Abou Hassan, a well known mezze and Lebanese food restaurant in Beirut. I loved it from the moment I walked in and saw all the different mezze appetizers and salads lined up and waiting to be ordered. It was without a doubt a festival of foods, flavors, colors, a true taste of Lebanese eating culture.
Here are a few of the dishes we ordered:
Tabbouleh – Salad of parsley, bulgar, tomatoes, onions, lemon
Warak Enab – Stuffed grape leaves
Lebanese Toum – King of dips, pure garlic blended with vegetable oil
Shanklish – Aged Levantine cheese
Lamb Brains – Sautéed with garlic sauce
Tagine – Tahini (sesame paste), roasted nuts
Chicken Hearts – Caramelised in pomegranate molasses

Al Halabi Restaurant (https://goo.gl/maps/rkYpWgqZSsJFqPWr7) – Next, my friend Kamel () brought us to Al Halabi Restaurant, an iconic restaurant in Beirut, known for mezze and especially for the Lebanese raw meat platter. Raw meat is commonly eaten in Lebanon, and it’s a delicacy and it’s incredibly delicious. We had raw lamb fat, meat of various textures, kibbeh nayyeh, and raw liver. Additionally, after another spectacular Lebanese meal, we were ushered to another table that was filled with dessert – a bounty of never ending fruit and sweet desserts.

Thank you again to USAID Lebanon Enterprise Development Project for supporting my trip to Lebanon.

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