The Daily Spud

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Tag: Lebanon (page 1 of 2)

Spud Sunday: Better Through Food

So, the Irish Blog Awards are over and done with for this year, and though I didn’t become the possessor of any new trophyware this weekend, I was mightily pleased to see the gong in my category, Best Blog of a Journalist, go to friend and fellow McKennas’ Guide editor, Caroline Hennessy of Bibliocookthe original Irish food blog and one of the longest running Irish blogs of any kind, while in the Food & Drink category, it was great to see Conor Bofin of One Man’s Meat get the nod this year.

IFWG logo

For me, though, there was an acknowledgement of a different kind this week, when I was invited to become a member of the Irish Food Writers’ Guild. For those not familiar with it, it’s an association of established food writers – think Myrtle, Darina and Rachel Allen for a start – they assess your writing and take a vote on whether or not you can join their gang; there may also be secret handshakes involved, I didn’t get that far yet.

In any case, I’m greatly honoured to have been asked to join – it feels a little bit like getting picked for the school team. And now, without further ado, may I present this week’s installment, which is late (again) but it is here, because that is what I do and I’m flattered by those who think I do it well.

People might say ah, it’s just food, it’s nothing – but really, what is better than this?

Better than what, exactly? You might suppose – given my well-documented predilection for all things potato – that I was referring, perhaps, to a crisp sandwich or a massive plate o’ spuds (and there are times, in my world at least, when both are hard to beat). The words, however, weren’t mine and the context was much broader.

Kamal Mouzawak at Glebe Gardens

Kamal Mouzawak, pictured at Glebe Gardens, West Cork (2011)

Kamal Mouzawak was describing his recent work with a group of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, which aims to establish a kitchen from which they can cook their traditional food. It may not sound like much – a kitchen, a few Syrian ladies cooking dinners as they might at have done at home – but, for that one group of people, it is making things better, and Kamal is all about making things better through the medium of food. “The most authentic and sincere expression of tradition, of history, is food,” he says. These refugees may have arrived with little else, but they carry their food culture with them and it is a fundamental way, not just of feeding themselves, but of connecting with others. Continue reading

Spud Sunday: Man of Za’atar

Sometimes, when all around are talking turkey, it’s good to step away from the crowd (we are, as memorably observed in Monty Python’s Life of Brian, all individuals after all).

So here is something a little (or perhaps more than a little) different to the usual Christmassy food blog post. Some nineteen months after an unforgettable trip to Lebanon (ably lead by Bethany Kehdy of Taste Lebanon), it is a little Christmas present to myself to finally write this. And a treat, I hope, for you. It a story about Abu Kassem, a wise man from the east who bears neither frankincense, gold nor myrrh, but za’atar.

Za'atar plant

The prized Middle Eastern herb that is za'atar

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The Incredible Spreadable

It was, to coin a phrase, la jam de la jam.

In fact, I could get all biblical about it and accuse Nidal Rayess of having saved the best jam ’til last, but the truth is I am just thankful for what I can honestly say was a higher jam experience.

We visited Nidal’s dairy in Jdita a couple of weeks ago, as part of the Taste Lebanon tour, where, among other things, they make labneh (or strained yoghurt) and halloumi cheese from their own cow’s and goat’s milk, as well as making a range of preserves.

Nidal Rayess

Nidal Rayess: one man and his cheese

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