The Lebanese experience

recipe

Posted on: 3rd November, 2014

Category: A Flavour of West Cork

Contributor: Karen Austin

Lettercollum Kitchen Project, 22 Connolly Street, Clonakilty; Email: Karen@lettercollum.ie; www.Lettercollum.ie; Lettercollumkitchenproject.com (our blog).

recipeBeirut is a big busy city and the traffic is appalling! Trying to cross the roads was a bit like playing ‘chicken’, making mad dashes between the cars. The main highway out of Beirut, which runs along the coast, is three lanes wide, but in fact a lot of the time there are five lanes in action. Everyone puts their foot down and goes for it, honking their horns. Somehow the lack of road regulation seems to keep everyone super alert and we only saw one prang during our visit and we did quite a few road trips.

Being alert seems to be the order of the day, hardly surprising considering that Lebanon is sandwiched between Syria and Israel. The people are incredibly hospitable and optimistic, as they get on with their daily lives.

We were made so welcome by the Lebanese people. Everyone, from food ambassadors to taxi drivers went out of their way to ensure we enjoyed our stay.

It is a very diverse country, which is in fact only the size of Co.Cork; although a completely different shape, metre for metre it’s pretty similar.

Saturday night in down town Beirut could be compared to Saturday night in Temple Bar with everyone out rocking on the streets – less alcohol involved but plenty of singing and dancing, then go 70kms up the coast to Tripoli and it’s a totally different story. Fully manned tanks, machine guns and sandbags everywhere and don’t forget your headscarf, which considering there are ladies running round in mini skirts and high heels in Beirut, is easily done. I learnt to take nothing for granted.

The food was always delicious and super fresh. As the main aim of our trip was food, we spent a lot of time cooking and eating.

We hung out at a place called ‘Tawlet’ Souk el Tayeb in Beirut. It’s a food initiative that was set up by a man called Kamal Mouzawak, which supports small farmers and local producers. There’s a weekly farmers market and also a daily restaurant where there’s a different cook each day who prepares typical food from his or her own region.

The daily feast is amazing, a huge variety of salads, vegetable mezzes, meat, fish and different grains. The tabbouleh that we ate is nothing like the tabbouleh that we make. It’s pretty much the opposite, comprising 90 per cent fresh herbs and 10 per cent bulgur.

I went to the kitchen at 8 o’clock each morning to hang out in the kitchen, help with the chopping and pick everyone’s brains. It was an amazing experience and I am so grateful to all the cooks for their time and generosity.

Here’s a recipe for a simple and warming soup.

Lentil Soup with Swiss Chard and Lemon Adas bi Hamod

Ingredients:

300g green or brown lentils

2-3 large onions

4-6 cloves garlic

2 tbs olive oil

2 potatoes

1 large carrot

10 chard leaves

1tbs ground coriander

1tsp ground allspice

the juice of 2 lemons

a bunch of fresh coriander, chopped

Method:

Sort and wash the lentils. Check there are no small stones. Put the lentils into a saucepan and cover with 2 litres of water. Bring to the boil then turn the heat down and simmer for about 30 minutes.

Peel and dice the potatoes and carrot. Peel and chop the onions and garlic.

Wash the chard and strip the stems from the leaves. Chop the stems and reserve the leaves.

Heat a frying pan then add the oil and onions. Cook them on a medium high heat until they begin to brown then stir in the garlic and chopped chard stems. Cook for a few minutes then tip into the pot with the lentils

Stir in the potatoes, carrots, coriander and allspice then cook for about fifteen minutes – until the potatoes and carrots are tender. Season with salt and pepper

Chop the chard leaves into ribbons and stir into the soup, cook for a few minutes, until the leaves have wilted then stir in the lemon juice.

Take off the heat and check the seasoning. Stir in the chopped coriander and serve.

The cooking classes are now under way. There are still a couple of places on the Thai class – lots of zingy dishes on Saturday, November 8 and the Winter Warmers – exciting healthy recipes – on  November 22.

The Lebanese class has been very popular and we now have a second class on Saturday November 29

If you are interested or would like more information please call to the shop or drop us an email.

We’re very happy to announce that the Lettercollum Cookbook has now been published. It is available in our shop, The Lettercollum Kitchen Project in Clonakilty and various bookshops around the country.

We hope you will enjoy it!

 

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11th October, 2017  ·  

Submarines, American Sailors, and the Underwater War in Irish Waters, 1917-1918
by Dr John Borgonovo in The Parish Centre, Clonakilty
on Thursday Oct 26 2017 at 8.30 pm

In 1917, unrestricted submarine warfare by German U-boats brought the United States into WWI and created a crisis in Britain. To defeat the submarine menace, an American naval fleet was dispatched to County Cork, bringing about 10,000 sailors with it. This talk will explain the circumstances of this extraordinary event, and how Cork residents dealt with their unexpected American guests.

Dr John Borgonovo is a lecturer in the School of History at UCC. His publications include Spies, Informers, and the 'Anti-Sinn Féin' Society: The Intelligence War in Cork City, 1920-1921; The Dynamics of War and Revolution: Cork City, 1916-1918; Exercising a close vigilance over their daughters: Cork women, American sailors, and Catholic vigilantes, 1917-18; Something in the Nature of a Massacre: The Bandon Valley Killings Revisited (with Andy Bielenberg). His latest publication (with co-authors John Crowley, Donal Ó Drisceoil and Mike Murphy) is the highly acclaimed and magnificient Atlas of the Irish Revolution. In July of this year, he organised a very successful conference on Winning the Western Approaches - Unrestricted Submarine Warfare and the US Navy in Ireland 1917-1918.
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11th October, 2017  ·  

Apple Juicing Day in Clonakilty next Sunday Sept 30th. All welcome to bring their apples from 2-6pm to the Clonakilty Community Garden (on entrance road to Clonakilty Lodge).

Building on the success of its inaugural 2016 event, local voluntary environmental organisation Sustainable Clonakilty invites people to bring along their apples and press them to extract their own juice to take home, using the group's Apple Press.

Volunteers will be at hand to assist in the procedure. Bring along your apples washed; clean containers to freeze your juice (milk/juice bottles or cartons, plastic bottles with caps); clean, sterilised glass bottles to pasteurise with swing caps or suitable for 26 mm diameter metal cap.

A limited number of new 3 litres juice bags that are suitable for freezing and pasteurising, can be purchased for a nominal fee on the day also.

This is a free community event and donations will be welcome to cover costs.

For further information, please contact Xavier at xavierdubuisson@gmail.com or text at 086/0476124.
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26th September, 2017  ·  

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