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 (or mouneh) at
Rayess Trading in Chtaura, east of Beirut:
Sadly my suitcase was not quite big enough to fit them all...
Now that's a potato... (image from bbc.co.uk)
Remember this guy?
For those not so well up on their tuber news, this was the Lebanese farmer who, a couple of years ago, dug up what was reportedly the heaviest potato in the world. Weighing in at a whopping 11.3 kg, that, my friends, is a spud to be reckoned with.
And while the prospect of finding similarly-sized spuds may not have been the only reason to visit, I am, as you read this, eating and drinking my way around the Lebanon. Yes, the Lebanon. Really. I don’t think I could be more excited about it if I tried!
So pardon me while I get on with my little tour of the Middle East. I’ll be back next week to tell you all about it.