Blog por Daniela Freitas

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Streets ahead

My parents used to forbid me to eat most street food. “We don’t know how they cook it,” my mother would tell me sternly, “so stay away.” Even so, during school recess, I would sneak out and buy some kaak, a thick bread covered in sesame seeds and shaped like a purse, traditionally eaten with a handful of dried thyme. Other favourite snack foods included corn on the cob, termos (lupins), fava beans, piping hot roasted peanuts served in cones made from old newspaper, and prickly pears, peeled and served on ice. Somehow, the food tasted better as I stood on the street wolfing it down – I felt free and grown-up. Around me, street vendors pushing their carts would congregate near the school gate, hoping to sell their wares to other truant students.

Beirut is awash with the smell of food cooking, and the cries of the mobile street vendors are almost as distinctive as the foods they sell. There aren’t many Lebanese who would not recognise the call of the bread vendor, the “Kaak Kaak” he yells as he wanders along with his trolley, or the sound of the corn vendor clicking his tongs together.

Other street food comes from tiny shops. These are basically stands offering shawarma – slabs of chicken or meat sizzling on vertical skewers, to be grated and stuffed buy canada goose parka ottawa into pitta bread with tahineh and pickles – and, of course, the Lebanese favourite, falafel (fried grated chickpeas). In fact, when the war ended, the first shop to reopen in downtown Beirut was a falafel stand. The city had become an uninhabited wasteland of bombed-out buildings and overgrown streets, but once the shooting stopped, a small shop appeared in a bullet-riddled building. “Sahyoun”, the falafel stand, was back. And people flocked to it.

“My family has been making falafel for over 70 years,” Zoheir Sahyoun said proudly, standing under a black-and-white photograph of his father selling the snack in the 1930s. “We moved to another location during the war. But here in downtown is where we belong. So we came back.” Sahyoun is still there, still selling falafel served with tarator (a sauce made from lemon and tahineh), radishes, tomatoes, parsley and mint.

But far and away the greatest concentration of street food stalls is on the seafront esplanade known as the Corniche. Built during the are there any canada goose outlet stores French mandate, it is this crowded city’s only breathing space. Hundreds of people come here every day to walk beside the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean. With a summer that lasts well into November, the Corniche is filled with people at all hours of the day and most best mens canada goose jacket of the night. Families set up camp with folding chairs, stoves, coffee pots and narghileh (hubble-bubble pipe), while others come just to stroll or jog. Sooner or later, canada goose coat 1000 bulbs they will buy snacks or lunch from one of the food carts, many of buy canada goose jacket ebay which are draped with the Lebanese flag. Since vendors do not have business licences, these flags are used as deterrents to police, who, the vendors hope, will respect their patriotism and leave them alone. It’s not hard to fall under their spell.

Even now I still succumb to Fawzi, the corn vendor who spends much of his day strolling up and down the Corniche. His rickety-looking cart holds a small grill, a big pot of water boiling fiercely over a small flame, another boiling pot of fava beans, a plastic bowl filled with lupin seeds, and a plate full of sliced lemons authorized canada goose outlet to be served with the beans. Customers can choose either boiled or grilled corn. Much of Fawzi’s work begins at home, as both the dried fava beans and lupins have to be soaked for days then boiled before they’re ready to be eaten.

There was, however, one street treat that I was allowed as a child – the special sweet drink called sahlab, a blend of milk, sugar and spices. I remember how we would stop and have sahlab on the way back from a wonderful night of watching Ella Fitzgerald, Rudolf Nureyev, Margot Fonteyn or Maurice Béjart at the Roman temples at Baalbeck, in the Bekaa valley. We’d join dozens of people who emerged from trucks, buses and cars to sip the drink. Somehow mcgj, it would give us energy to return to our vehicles and continue the trip back to Beirut.


Like me, food writer Anissa Helou recalls that, in the 1950s, her parents forbade her to buy street food, fearing that someone may see her. ‘”Girls from good families don’t [eat on the street],” they told me, “but you can buy whatever you want and take it back home to eat there.” Sadly, they never understood that it was not the same.’ These recipes are from her book, Lebanese Cuisine. Serves four to six when served in pitta breads.

100g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in plenty of water with tsp baking soda 200g peeled split dried fava beans, soaked overnight in plenty of water with 1 tsp baking soda 5 large cloves garlic, peeled 1 medium onion, peeled and quartered (or a small leek, washed, trimmed and cut into 2 or 3 pieces) 1 big handful fresh coriander leaves 1 tsp ground cumin 1 tsp ground allspice tsp ground black pepper 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper Salt 1 tsp baking soda Vegetable oil for deep frying

Drain the chickpeas and fava beans and rinse under cold water. Put in a blender with the garlic, onion or leek, coriander, spices and salt to taste. Process into a smooth paste. Add the baking soda and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Take a handful of the mixture and shape it into round cakes of 5cm in diameter. Heat the vegetable oil and deep fry the canada goose coat 1000 calorie meal plans falafel until golden – about two minutes each side.

Drain the falafel and serve hot in pitta bread with tarator (see below), tomatoes, pickled cucumbers, and sweet chilli peppers and turnips.


A traditional Lebanese tahineh dip.

1 lemon, juiced 85ml water 125ml tahineh 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed Salt

Alternately add lemon juice and water to the tahineh until it has a creamy, yogurt-like consistency. Add the garlic, and season with salt to taste.

Chicken shawarma

These quantities are enough to make four sandwiches.

3 chicken breasts 1 medium onion, sliced 1 lemon, juiced 125ml olive oil tsp cinnamon tsp allspice tsp black pepper Salt Fresh thyme

Put the chicken in a bowl, add the onion, lemon juice, olive oil, spices, salt and thyme, and stir well. Transfer to the fridge and marinate for two to four hours, stirring occasionally. Preheat the oven to 175C/350F/gas mark 5. Bake the chicken for 25-30 minutes, or until done. Slice and serve hot in pitta bread with sliced tomatoes, red onions and gherkins, and chopped mint and parsley.

Lamb shawarma

These quantities are enough to make four sandwiches.

800g lamb shoulder meat, thinly sliced 2 onions, thinly sliced 1 lemon, juiced 125ml extra virgin oil tsp ground cinnamon tsp allspice Fresh thyme Salt and black pepper

Mix the meat with the onions, best canada goose jacket review lemon juice, olive oil, spices, thyme, salt and pepper. Marinate in the refrigerator for two to three hours, stirring occasionally.

Sauté the meat for a couple of minutes until done. Serve hot in pitta bread with sliced tomatoes, onions bu sees a spike in canada goose jacket thefts and gherkins, and chopped mint and parsley.


Serves four.

1 litre whole milk tsp ground mastic (available from Middle Eastern and Asian stores) 1 tbsp sahlab powder (available from Middle Eastern and Asian stores) 6 tbsp sugar Ground cinnamon, to garnish

Warm the milk over medium heat. As it heats, remove a little and mix with the mastic. Bring the rest of the milk to the boil, then add the sahlab, little by average cost canada goose jacket little, so it doesn’t form lumps. Add milk/mastic mix, stir over the heat for about five minutes, then add the sugar and stir for three minutes more. Pour into soup bowls, sprinkle with cinnamon and serve hot

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