Saturday September 30, 2017 was a beautiful autumn day to have a farmers’ market in the West Bekaa!
The event organized by the Food Heritage Foundation in collaboration with arcenciel, was hosted by Chateau Kefraya. Around ten producers from the Bekaa region displayed local products including fresh fruits and vegetables, organic food, traditional mouneh (preserves), soap and other local produce.
“Beit el Mouzareh” or the house of the farmer is an initiative by arcenciel – agriculture program to support farmers and producers from the Bekaa region. The souk was founded in 2016 and is held every Sunday during summer at the convent of Tanail.
For the first time, the souk moved to the West Bekaa to include producers from darb el karam – food trail and others from the villages around the trail.
Visitors from Beirut and neighboring villages enjoyed delicious healthy food and wine while supporting local farmers and women.
During the past few years, Josette Dijkhuizen has been working hard on a photographic documentary highlighting women refugee entrepreneurs in Jordan and Lebanon, in an aim to offer an insight and educate, but also to raise awareness for the beneficial effects of stimulating women entrepreneurship on economic and social problems in the world.
We met Josette last year, during her first visit to Lebanon, and got more acquainted with her project and activities and told her about our different initiatives aiming at empowering women. Unfortunately, due to the unstable situation then, she could not visit our projects in the Bekaa. However this year, we were happy to see her again and arrange a visit to meet with women entrepreneurs – hosts on darb el karam Food Trail in the West Bekaa, involved in preserving traditional food and cuisine.
[quote]In the beautiful area of the Beqaa Valley, there is potential for unique products and services and we saw strong women entrepreneurs keeping food heritage alive and being a role model for so many others[/quote] said Josette after meeting with Lina, Grace, Nabila and Marie.
About Josette Dijkhuizen
Prof Dr. Josette Dijkhuizen is a scientist and entrepreneurship consultant par excellence. She combines science with practice in her activities, which leads to publishing different books, but also to inspiring presentations across the globe. Josette was assigned as a UN Women’s representative in 2013 the year during which she started her own social enterprise ‘ENPower’ to assist vulnerable (wo)men from shelter homes, refugee and human trafficking, with the start-up of an enterprise. To know more about her program for encouraging entrepreneurship, visit her website http://josettedijkhuizen.nl/
This delicious jam pie is a specialty of Ain Zebdeh guesthouse. Noha prepares it with the finest fruit jams that she prepares from local and freshly picked fruits. Apricot jam is more commonly used. The Arabic name “mabrousheh” refers to the grated crust on top of the pie.
Total Servings: 20
Preparation time: 1 hour
A pinch of vanilla powder
1 tsp. of baking powder
Zest of 1 lemon
1 pack and half of softened butter (170g)
1 cup of white sugar
4 cups of plain flour
2 cups of your favorite jam
In a bowl, whisk together the egg, vanilla sugar and lemon zest
Add the sugar slowly and beat until a white mixture is obtained
Stir in the softened butter and mix well with hands
Add the flour and combine all ingredients. Knead well until a smooth dough is obtained. You may add some water if needed
Heat the oven to 180°C
Spread the dough on a baking tray and press it to take the shape of the tray.
Pour in the jam and spread on the entire dough
Grate the remaining dough over the jam
Bake in the oven for 35mn until the top crust turns golden
Qawarma tabbouleh is prepared in the Lebanese mountains during winter when summer vegetables (tomato, parsley and green onions) are out of season. It is cooked in the West Bekaa and Shouf villages with “Qawarma” or lamb meat preserved in fat and served with boiled cabbage leaves.
Total Servings: 4
1 cup of coarse bulgur
1 cup of chickpeas, pealed and boiled (save the water when you drain)
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 cup of Qawarma
Salt and pepper to taste
1 small cabbage
1 Tbsp. of dry mint
Wash the cabbage leaves and cook them in the chickpea water
In a pot, melt the qawarma and stir in the onions, chickpeas, and bulgur
Season with salt, pepper and dry mint
Serve the tabbouleh hot with the cooked cabbage leaves
From May 12 – 14, the American University of Beirut (AUB) hosted the conference entitled “Insatiable Appetite: Food as a Cultural Signifier”, a project of the Arab-German Young Academy of Sciences and Humanities (AGYA) Working Group on Common Heritage & Common Challenges, organized by Dr. Kirill Dmitriev (St Andrews University), Prof Julia Hauser (Kassel University) & Prof Bilal Orfali (AUB).
darb el karam had a considerable share in the conference, when the organizers and lecturers visited the West Bekaa on Friday the 13th. Petra Chedid El Rassi, coordinator of the trail in West Bekaa, planned the day’s program. Lina Haddad, food producer and owner of a table d’hôte in Kherbet Qanafar, hosted the attendees for breakfast and 2 lectures took place at her house. Lina welcomed the team, and explained to them about her role in darb el karam and what she has to offer at her table d’hôte.
Lead by Petra, the group then visited nearby village Saghbine for a village tour and went for a boat trip on Qaraoun Lake in Aitanit.
On their way back, they had lunch at Abou Elias Restaurant and Cafe, a traditional family restaurant on darb el karam where, in addition to tasty mezze prepared by Abou Elias and his wife Thérèse, they tasted traditional potato kebbeh stuffed with labneh and kawarma prepared by Ain Zebde guesthouse owner Noha Abi Rashed, and had “Tamriyyeh” for dessert, prepared by host Nabila Azzam in Ein Zebde.
Reporter Federica Marsi visits Darb el Karam in West Bekaa and interviews hosts about their specializations in Darb el Karam the hopes that the food trail raises in light of the region’s political instability, as part of an article set to be featured in Aljazeera.
After a tour in Saghbine and Ein Zebde, shadowing the shepherd, the farmer, the food producer and visiting the Bed and Breakfast, Federica hails Darb el Karam, leaves with high hopes and with a promise to visit again.
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.
In September 2014, the Food Heritage Foundation (FHF) in collaboration with the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) got in touch with the “Khayrat Bekaena” women’s cooperative (COOP) in Khiara, West Bekaa.
It is with great pleasure that FHF & IOCC decided to further support this women’s COOP who had been producing mouneh products for almost a year. In this line, a specialized cooking unit was added to their COOP for hot meals preparations and eventual catering activities. The Khayrat Bekaena‘s team of Lebanese and Syrian ladies took part in training workshops on food safety, standardized recipes, and managerial and entrepreneurial skills. Since March 2015, the ladies have been working jointly to produce hot meals distributed to 100 vulnerable Syrian and Lebanese families in Khiara and Rawda villages.
This model helps address the immediate needs of the most vulnerable refugee and local families by providing them with pots of cooked food that can alleviate their food insecurity and increase their dietary diversity. It also creates an additional production line for the ladies hence providing them with an additional source of income.
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