The Daily Spud

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Spud Sunday: Eat Only Lebanese

The unfortunate thing about holidays is that, by definition, they must come to an end.

I’m physically back from my tour of Lebanon but mentally, I’m still several hundred miles to the south and east. And it seems a particularly cruel irony, as Eat Only Irish For A Week approaches, with its challenge to eat only Irish-produced food and use Irish-produced ingredients, that I am surrounded by the edible spoils of my foreign travel. There’s jam made from rose petals, bottles of orange blossom water and pomegranate molasses, bags of za’atar, sumac and freekeh, blocks of labneh, halloumi and more. None of it is remotely Irish – you need look no further than the arabic script on the labels to confirm that particular fact.

Lebanese preserves

Lebanese preserves (or mouneh) at
Rayess Trading in Chtaura, east of Beirut:
Sadly my suitcase was not quite big enough to fit them all...

Still, though I am all for eating Irish, I predict that I won’t be able to help myself when it comes to reliving the tastes of Lebanon – it was a fabulous food and cultural experience that could (and probably will, in due course) fill many blog posts.

Lebanese potatoes

Spuds (and a few sneaky onions) on sale in the souk in Tripoli, North Lebanon

Fortunately, I do believe that there is a compromise position. The Lebanese, you see, are partial to the occasional spud (and sure who isn’t). So who’s to say that I can’t take some Irish potatoes, bless them with a bit of Lebanese flavour and enjoy the best of two wonderful worlds. That, frankly, sounds like a rather excellent idea to me.

19 Comments

  1. The jams (and potatoes) sound wonderful! I hope you had a good trip and even with the eat-only-Irish food mission I hope to see more of your Lebanese food experiences as well. There was some Lebanese influences in the food where we lived in Brazil and they were our favorite places for dining when we needed something unique and different.

  2. Daily Spud

    Monday, May 9, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    Hey Lori, I’ll certainly be posting more about my Lebanese food experiences – so much to tell! I’ve always loved the Lebanese food that I’ve had here and in other places, and now that I’ve had it at source, I think I love it even more.

  3. Smart of you (she says, unsurprised) to stock up on condiment-y kinds of things. Looking forward to checking out the Lebanese flavors you share over the next weeks. Glad you had an amazing trip, DS!

  4. Daily Spud

    Tuesday, May 10, 2011 at 1:05 am

    Thanks Jenni! I’m looking forward to making good use of said condiment-y items. No doubt I will end up with some sort of Irish-Lebanese mish-mash but I reckon it’ll be a tasty mish-mash at that :)

  5. an excellent idea indeed. Really wonderful having you on the tour. spuds + sumac make a wonderful combo and then there’s dipping them into hummus which you are now all too familiar with. xx

  6. Our hearts are still in Lebanon too, and our stomachs too, perhaps! Especially as I’m back to work today and bored stupid again!

    When we got home, we decided to ring the changes, and have had Chinese one night and a sausage, bacon, tomato, mushroom alldaybreaky style dinner the other night!

    Did I tell you, we did buy a second suitcase in Beirut and came back with a whopping 18 kilos more than we left the UK with!!!!

    I’ve resisted opening anything so far, though will likely do so pretty soon, and can’t wait to get cooking and eating!

    Was such a pleasure, Aoife, and you know, when that halloumi or fish head or nougatine or other delicious morsel calls at you in high pitched voice, you’ll be channelling a little of me forever!!!

  7. I”ve just started a blog about discovering my Irish roots in preparation for a trip to Ireland this summer. As I was searching for Irish blogs of interest I ran across yours – really enjoyed reading through and will become a regular reader!

  8. I think it is a great idea to combine some Lebanese spices with some beautiful Irish butter and spuds! Hard to go wrong there!

  9. Daily Spud

    Monday, May 16, 2011 at 10:24 am

    Bethany: oh gosh yes, hummus and fries makes for the absolute best of both worlds!

    Kavey: 18 kilos! Wow – I’d say my extras amounted to about 5 or 6 kilos but of course, now that I’m back, there’s loads of other stuff that I wish I had brought back too. Still, I’m enjoying my stash (and will do for some time to come, I’m sure). And of course it goes without saying that having your company on the trip was an absolute pleasure. As for that little “Eat Me” voice? That will be with me forever :)

    Joyce: Why thank you – glad you enjoyed what you’ve read so far and hope to see you back here for more :)

    Jenn: couldn’t agree more!

  10. You would really love a blog I follow, Taste of Beirut (http://www.tasteofbeirut.com/) She makes amazing and (for me at least) unexpected Lebanese dishes.

  11. Daily Spud

    Tuesday, May 17, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    Hey thanks for that Trix, will definitely check that blog out.

  12. Wow, sounds like you scored some delicious souvenirs. I love sumac and its great with potatoes, once your Irish focus period is through I cannot wait to see the tasty recipes you develop to entice us to eat these wonderfully Lebanese inspired foods.

  13. Daily Spud

    Sunday, May 22, 2011 at 11:25 pm

    Hey OysterCulture, yes I did indeed score plenty of tasty swag – will be enjoying sumac with my spuds for some time to come, I’d say!

  14. two years with the un irish batt.in LEBANON great food,great people ,just saying hi x

  15. Daily Spud

    Sunday, June 19, 2011 at 12:01 am

    Hey Vinny, thanks for saying hi! Both my Dad and my brother served with the UN Irish battalion in Lebanon, so I’ve been hearing about the country since I was very young – it was one of the reasons I really wanted to visit and so very glad I did.

  16. Hey there,

    Glad you enjoyed Lebanon, the food is one of the bests things there! It kept me there for 4 years, well that and the sun!

    Did you try manoushe by any chance? its usually a breakfast food, like a thin based pizza with a topping of cheese, zatar or kishik, complemented with yogurt and a few salad veg. I’d be interested to know if you all like it, its one of my favorite things.

    If you’ve run out of sumac or zatar by now I know a good supplier in belfast.

  17. Hi Deirdre, I most certainly did try manoushe, several times (with zatar and also with zatar and cheese) – I loved the stuff! I still have a supply of sumac and zatar but I might well be in touch to get the name of your supplier when I run out :)

  18. I have just bought the Jerusalem cookbook and I am searching for supplier in belfast any suggestions
    recipes look great. so keen to start cooking

  19. Daily Spud

    Monday, April 8, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    Hi Rose – I’m not too familiar with seeking out middle eastern supplies in Belfast, I’m afraid. Ethnic shops would be my first port of call, though I guess I would also try the St. George’s market – somebody there might be able to advise on good suppliers.

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