Rural Tourism Day

Providing opportunities for rich experiences and the preservation of cultural heritage, rural tourism is a pillar of economic growth outside of big cities. Countless rural communities around the world look to tourism as a lifeline and leading provider of employment opportunities.

This year’s edition of World Tourism Day is celebrated under the theme of “Tourism and Rural Development.” Although the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have made this year exceptionally challenging  for the tourism sector, we remain optimistic that the golden days of rural tourism are still over the horizon.

Connecting nine villages in higher Chouf and West Bekaa, Darb El Karam is a food tourism network that offers thematic packages according to harvest seasons. Visitors can delight in Lebanon’s unique food culture through activities like picking and preservation, tours across the country to discover traditional food processing methods and unique culinary experiences at the houses of food producers.

Looking forward beyond lockdown, we’ve planned some exciting culinary adventures. Situated in the charming West Bekaa Valley, our upcoming goat trail on Saturday, October 3rd will introduce visitors to local goat shepherds, offer a variety of authentic dairy delicacy and wine tastings, a hike with breathtaking views between Ain Zebde and Saghbine and much more.

Stay tuned for our future rural adventures for 2020 which will be announced soon!


Rural dinner for Association Léba and ADLF

Anjuli and Petra presenting FHF programs to the guests

The Food Heritage Foundation’s Darb al Karam received guests mostly from Europe with Lebanese roots on Tuesday August 7, 2018. Association Léba and Association des Druzes Libanais en France chose Darb el Karam to be part of their visits program to Lebanon and booked a traditional Lebanese dinner on the food trail in the West Bekaa. Petra Chedid and Anjuli Weigelt guided the group through the evening.

After arriving in a local hotel with a beautiful view over the Litani river the group visited spontaneously the Qaraoun Lake. The impression could then be digested and discussed at the dinner in a traditional and family run restaurant. Beside this FHF also offered two live cooking stations: local women prepared different kinds of delicious Manoushe on the saj as well as grilled potato kebbeh stuffed with labneh.

Delicious saj manakish

The meal was complemented by some Arabic and self-written poems by Abou Elias, the owner of the restaurant. He accompanied the dishes additionally with his “derbakkeh” and traditional singing. The guests immediately joined in the traditional and well-known songs and were motivated to dance in the middle of the restaurant.

Abou Elias entertaining the guests with folk songs and “zajal” on his “derbakkeh”

At the end of the evening all guests were satisfied by heaps of traditional and local food, old songs and dances especially Dabke. With this event, the Lebanese guests living abroad, explored their culture and got close to their roots. Most of them, particularly the younger generation did never visit the West Bekaa before. They were amazed and thrilled by its beauty and the hospitality of its people.


Foraging on the WEP trail

Collecting wild edible plants on a rainy day

Despite the low rainfall level this winter season in Lebanon, not exceeding the general yearly average, spring season in the West Bekaa was green enough to allow nature and food lovers visit the Wild Edible Plant (WEP) trail on Darb el Karam, even for a limited time.

A day on the WEP trail event organized on March 18, 2018

The mountains and fields of the villages on Darb el Karam were generous with the variety of wild edible plants they offered for the visitors from “qorra” to “balghassoun” and “dardar” and “khebbeyzeh, qors aanneh, mesheh, hindbeh”* and others. Darb el Karam local guides explained how to identify these plants and prepare them according to traditional recipes popular in their villages.

“dardar” leaves are harvested when still tender

It is not a coincidence that the Christian Lent season falls in early spring when all these delicious plants are available! [quote]We prepare a diversity of dishes from salads, omelets, aassoura and vegetarian kebbeh[/quote] said Lina, host and guesthouse owner on Darb el Karam.

Enjoying a traditional lunch on the WEP trail

[quote]I used to go with my mom to the fields when I was a little girl, she taught me all I know about sleeqa.[/quote] said Nabila, WEP local guide on Darb el Karam.

Chef Gail Arnold from New Jersey collecting edible plants with local host Joseph

Chef Gail Arnold who spent two days on the trail was eager to go back home and try some of the recipes she tasted. [quote] I found some dandelion greens here [in the US] and made a dish much like one that Lina taught me…Delicious![/quote]

Yet, one other challenge that WEP are facing, besides weather variability, is the use of herbicides that is killing not only weeds and undesired herbs but also edible and medicinal plants which grow in the orchards.

[quote]Sleeqa is not as abundant as it was before. Farmers are spraying a lot of herbicides in their orchards!![/quote] told us Noha, owner of Ain Zebde guesthouse. In this regards, awareness on sustainable weed management is warranted among farmers to protect soil biology and function while controlling weeds.

Malva sylvestris is commonly known for its versatile medicinal use

Wild edible plants have always been an integral part of the rural Lebanese diet as they are nutritious and most of them are rich in fiber, antioxidants and minerals. Moreover, they are affordable and easily accessible!


*Qorra: watercress (Nasturtium officinale)

Balghassoun: garden Anchusa

Dardar: eastern star thistle (Centaurea hyalolepis)

Khebbeyzeh: mallow (Malva sylvestris)

Qors aanneh: eryngo (Eryngium creticum)

Mesheh: salsify (Tragopogon buphtalmoides)

Hindbeh: common chicory (Cichorium intybus)





Discover the Wild Edible Plants trail

To celebrate spring and the generosity of the Land, the Food Heritage Foundation is organizing a 1-day event on the Wild Edible Plants trail on Darb el Karam – Food Trail in the West Bekaa.

Join us on March 18 to discover the landscape of the West Bekaa villages and learn from local farmers how to identify these plants and use them in the local cuisine.

A traditional seasonal lunch will be served on Darb el Karam tables d’hôte.

Participation fees: 55,000 LBP including transportation and lunch.

Hurry up and register by calling us on 71-731437 or by sending us an email to

Places are limited.

Departure from Beirut will be at 8:30 AM. Departure location will be communicated later.

The bus leaves the West Bekaa at 3:00 PM

*For cancellation, please contact us 2 days before the event. Thank you

**To stay updated about this event, please check our facebook page

Food Trails

The Jabali Tomato Trail

Food Trails

The Goat Trail

In The Media

Les saveurs du Liban sont chez l’habitant: LeMonde.Fr

Géraldine Rué from LeMonde.Fr visits Raymonda Nehme host on darb el karam in the West Bekaa and writes this beautiful article.

“Au Liban, la cuisine est synonyme de partage. Consciente de ce patrimoine culturel, l’organisation Food Heritage Foundation permet de découvrir des spécialités régionales avec les fermiers, bergers et producteurs locaux. De la récolte à la préparation de plats traditionnels, l’occasion de vivre cette expérience de l’intérieur.”

LeMonde.Fr – 2015

The original article was published on November 5, 2015 and is available on this link.


darb el karam at the FCSI EAME biannual conference – Vienna

Ms. Jeambey introducing the foundation’s programs to the audience

During the FCSI EAME biannual conference, held in Vienna for Food Service Consultants all over the world, Zeinab Jeambey, FHF food tourism expert, spoke about the importance of food tourism for rural areas in Lebanon and highlighted Darb el Karam as a unique food tourism destination in the Shouf Cedar Biosphere Reserve, where visitors have the chance to be involved with farmers and producers in harvesting and food processing activities and enjoy star dishes of the areas at tables d’hote and guesthouses.


Training on managing Darb el Karam touristic packages and food menus

Elias_local guide

On May 16, the hosts of Darb el Karam – food heritage trail in the Higher Shouf and West Bekaa gathered in Maasser el-Shouf and participated in a two-session training prepared and delivered by Dr. Jad Abou Arrage, expert in rural tourism and Ms. Zeinab Jeambey, food heritage management specialist.

While the part given by Dr. Abou Arrage focused on familiarizing the hosts of the food trail with the proposed touristic packages, the second part of the training aimed at highlighting the importance of locality and seasonality of the suggested menus.


This training is the last one in the preparatory phase of the project; it is expected to launch Darb el Karam packages this summer and give the visitors the opportunity of experiencing a new type of tourism.

Darb el Karam is developed through the collaboration between the Environment and Sustainable Development Unit at the American University of Beirut, the Food Heritage Foundation and the Shouf Biosphere Reserve with support of USAID through Lebanon Industry Value Chain Development – LIVCD Project.



Chef Greg Malouf, guest on “darb el karam” West Bekaa food trail

Michelin-star chef Greg Malouf took a journey on “darb el karam” food trail of the West Bekaa during his last visit to Lebanon. Malouf, accompanied by a group of foodies and the Food Heritage Foundation’s president Mabelle Chedid, spent a whole day experimenting culinary activities on the spring trail.

The journey started with a traditional breakfast followed by a small hike in the village of Ein Zebde with local guide Elias Bou Khazen who explained about wild edible plants growing in the region and shared his local recipes. Around noon, the group headed to Kherbet Kanafar where they had a typical lunch at Lina Haddad’s table d’hôte who welcomed them with her generous family. Pumpkin zinkoul, wild edible plants salad and mufarraket batata were on the menu among other specialties of Lina and the region.


This is very special to me, eating in people’s houses instead of restaurants. Thank you for your generosity and hospitality” said Malouf when he first arrived at Haddad’s house.


In the afternoon, the group visited the convent of Mar Takle in Deir Ein el-Jawze and enjoyed the beautiful view of the Qaraoun lake before they savored traditional goat-milk ice-cream at Joseph Masrouaa’s in Saghbine.

Born and raised in Melbourne at the heart of a Lebanese family – originally from Zahlé – Malouf grew up eating traditional Lebanese food prepared by his mother, grandmother and aunts. Malouf is renowned for his love to Middle Eastern and Lebanese food and for the innovations he added to this cuisine; he co-authored several cooking books. His participation and admiration to darb el karam food trail was a beautiful experience not only for him, but for the people who hosted him in their homes, orchards and shops as well.