Due to the many socio-economic challenges that Lebanon is facing, the holidays are still a difficult time for many vulnerable and less fortunate families who are struggling to put food on the table and make ends meet.
To make a difference this holiday season, FHF’s Akleh Community Kitchen decided to collaborate with a number of NGO’s as part of the “Akleh Christmas Initiative” under the Ardi Ardak National Food Security Initiative to spread the joy of Christmas by distributing hot meals to families across Lebanon. To support small-scale farmers, all the ingredients were sourced from rural areas.
On the 23rd and 24th of December the Akleh Community Kitchen prepared and distributed 3,325 hot meals to families in need. Additionally, 860 meals and 100 Bûche de Noël cakes were delivered to the victims of the Beirut Blast. The distribution was done in collaboration with the Mar Yaacoub church, father Pere Majdi from the “Bonheur du Ciel” association, Father Jean-Marie Chami, Berrad El Hay and Basecamp Beirut.
In an effort to provide nutritious food for families in need during the holidays, FHF in collaboration with ESDU under the Ardi Ardak National Food Security Initiative prepared and delivered a total of 110 mouneh boxes to different neighborhoods across Beirut including Naba’a and in Tripoli and Aramoun.
The distribution was done with the help of the Rashet Kheir and Ruwwad Al Tanmeya NGOs and “Soeurs de la Charité de Sainte Jeanne Antide.” All the mouneh boxes were filled with fresh and healthy ingredients sourced directly from local small-scale producers.
We’d like to express our gratitude to “Search for Common Ground” (SFCG) and all the wonderful donors and volunteers who helped us make this holiday season special.
Despite these challenging times, FHF remains hopeful that better days are just over the horizon and wishes all of you a joyous holiday season filled with love and good food.
Hamra rejoices in Souk aal Souk Christmas- Farmers Market!
The Food Heritage Foundation in collaboration with ESDU and AUB Neighborhood Initiative organized its Christmas version of the Souk aal Souk Christmas – Farmers’ Market on the 18th of December in Jeanne D’Arc Street, Hamra.
Where else could you get into the Christmas spirit better than one of the busiest Hamra streets in Beirut! Twenty Six local farmers and producers participated in the souk; they offered a variety of fresh and organic groceries, Christmas and holiday healthy cookies, recycled accessories and many other locally produced goods. This souk shared food, traditions and hopes in a way helping bring together different communities, and built bridges between them.
“Think Local, Shop Local!” was the slogan of the Christmas souk and it meant to be a call out for supporting the local producers coming from different Lebanese areas. It promoted local environmentally sustainable food production and the preservation of centuries of Lebanese food Traditions. FHF and ESDU aim to create marketing & distribution channels as part of their plan to build the capacities of the vulnerable Lebanese producers and to connect the producers from rural areas with the city consumers by offering the consumer healthy local alternatives and the producers a market to vend their goods. In addition, they work to preserve the Lebanese food and agriculture traditions and pass the knowledge from one generation to the other.
The Christmas- farmers market was admired by visitors from all over Hamra, demanding to organize it periodically.
On the 6th of January of every year, Armenians all over the world celebrate Christmas, but also Epiphany and the baptism of Lord Jesus.
During the week preceding these celebrations, devoted Armenians fast; hence Khetum, or Armenian Christmas Eve dinner is a light menu, easy on the stomach after a week of fasting. A richer dinner is prepared on Christmas day.
Christmas Eve dinner (January 5th) includes traditional dishes such as tanapur or spas (yogurt and wheat/barley soup, fish which is the symbol of Christianity, nevik (Swiss chard and chickpeas), dried fruits and nuts, desserts like sharots (whole shelled walnuts threaded on a string and encased in grape jelly) and anoushabour (pudding made from wheat, berries and apricots) and of course wine. The recipes may vary among families and regions.
On Christmas day, other traditional Armenian dishes will be prepared for dinner such as itch (bulgur salad also known as Armenian tabbouleh), sou boreg, stuffed carrots, soujouk and basterma (two types of sausages) and mezze etc. Lebanese Armenians may add to their dinner table Lebanese food like hommous, tabbouleh and other.
Meghle is a Lebanese dessert based on a powdered rice pudding flavoured with different spices like anise, cinnamon and caraway and decorated with nuts. Traditionally, meghle is prepared on Christmas to celebrate the birth of Jesus; it is also served when a baby is born. Also see meghle drink.
Total Servings: 7
Preparation time: 20 mns
1 cup of floured rice
1 cup of sugar
6 cups of water
1 cup of anise tea
1 tbsp of cinnamon
1 tbsp of caraway
For decoration: Mixed nuts (pistachio, pine nuts, almonds, walnuts, soaked in water and peeled), raisins and grated coconut
In a cooking pot, combine all ingredients and stir on medium fire until they are well dissolved and the mixture becomes homogeneous
Keep on stirring and wait for the mixture to boil (for about 20 minutes)
Pour the meghle in cups and allow to cool before decorating and serving
For the decoration, sprinkle the grated coconut to cover the cup surface, then garnish with the nuts and raisins
Christmas is the time for the family and friends to gather and share good times, gifts, and certainly delicious food! Christmas desserts are an integral part of Christmas eve dinner, and some traditional sweets have become popular all around the world, appreciated and prepared outside their country of origin.
In the region of Provence – France, the tradition is to prepare thirteen desserts of Christmas, or “Les Treize Desserts de Noël”, and enjoy them after dinner on Christmas eve. These 13 desserts represent Jesus and his 12 apostles at the Last Supper. As tradition goes, each guest must have at least a small bit of each dessert. Among these desserts, we name the famous Chocolate Bûche de Noel, calissons, nougat blanc, quince paste, Fougasse (a typical olive oil bread of Provence), etc.
A German Christmas cannot be complete without mulled wine or Glühwein, an essential Christmas beverage enjoyed on a cold day, accompanied by Cinnamon German Christmas Cookies or Zimtsterne. Emperor’s Cookies or Kaiser-Plätzchen are another type of irresistible jam-filled cookies with different shapes such as like stars, hearts etc.
A distinctive Polish dessert is Makowiec or Poppy-seed cake, sometime also prepared for Easter. The poppy head filled with hundreds of poppy seeds is a symbol of harvest and fertility. Therefore, in the past, Polish people believed that eating poppy-seed cake during the holidays will bring them luck in life.
Piernik or Gingerbread is a famous aromatic cake with a strong and characteristic taste made from wheat and rye flour, milk, eggs, caramelized sugar and honey. A mixture of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cardamom, nutmeg, anise and lavender is usually added to give its typical flavor. In Poland, piernik is sold in a form of a big lump of a cake, or as a package of small cookies usually covered with chocolate and filled with fruit preserves, nut mass or marzipan.
Everyone cherishes Italian Christmas desserts! Zuppa Inglese consists of layers of cake brushed with a rum and jam mixture, layered in a glass bowl with vanilla and chocolate pastry cream and finally topped with sweetened whipped cream and fruit.
Panettone is a tall, cylindrical, fruit-filled sweet bread from Milan and which is today prepared around the world during Christmas season.
From Russia we bring you Pagach, a Lenten bread, that is eaten the first thing eaten Christmas Eve fast. The bread is dipped in honey to represent the “sweetness of life,” then in chopped garlic to represent the bitterness of life. Kutya, is a porridge of whole grains, honey and poppy seeds. The grains represent hope, and the honey and poppy seeds represent happiness and peace. Kutya is generally serves as the main dish during the holy supper. Fresh Fruit and Nuts are also a tradition on Russian Christmas eve, they include fresh figs, apricots, oranges and dates as well as nuts.
During Christmas, in the Holy land, a big bowl of freshly baked Christmas cookies such as mamoul or ghraibeh is served to the guests and shared with family members.
Lebanese Christmas dinners are known for their rich menu and the entire family contributes to preparing delicious dishes. Mouthwatering desserts are served after dinner and during the festive season; these include meghleh a type of cinnamon and rice pudding decorated with grated coconut and nuts, the Bûche de Noel with varying versions, stuffing and shapes, cooked wheat berries or Kamhiyyeh, etc. Fruit Liqueur is also served during Christmas time.
The Food Heritage Foundation in collaboration with the Environment and Sustainable Development Unit ESDU, and with support from Waterfront City Cares, is organizing a “Christmas Souk” Farmers’ Market on Monday December 15, 2014 in the American Community School – Hamra from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm.
The market will present around 20 producers from all over Lebanon who will propose a variety of fresh and local products (Fruits & vegetables, mouneh, pastries, saj etc.), holiday sweets and cookies and Christmas handcrafts!
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