I went to Lebanon. Mainly to get to know the local food culture better. But also to get to know Beirut a bit more. And very soon I noticed that I was in a right city:
– As a local, what do you think overall are the best things in Beirut?
– Food. And the weather. But the food is really good.
– Nice! And what people like to do here, what is a typical way of spending your free time?
– Eating. And planning about eating. What to eat next. And during the meal you can already start to think about the next one. By the way, you need to taste the arabic ice cream while you are here.
– I’d loved to. Hey, I saw a football stadium! What is your favourite sport here?
– I love your city.
What I love most in the Middle Eastern cuisine, is the mezes.
Your table will be filled with little plates with amazing variety of tastes: salads that are rich with fresh herbs and vegetables, dips that seduce you with smoky eggplant, silky chickpea and spicy paprika. Freshly stuffed grape wine leaves and warm, grilled halloumi. Yogurt and mint, lemon and olives, brash red pomegranate seeds and sweet taste of rose water syrup. The smell of the grilled meat and veggies, combined with the gentle smoke of a water pipe, while cleaning your plate with a thin lavash bread.
Lots of plates, plenty of people. I just love it.
On my trip I learned a few new mezes and here is one of them. Or actually, this plate was served as a started snack or with a beer. In Beirut, when you go to a restaurant you will usually get three small plates in front of you: one will contain salty seeds, one will contain lupine and one will contain these salty lemon carrot snacks. I would have never thought that a carrot would be a perfect beer snack, but these are absolutely brilliant.
Fresh, sour and salty.
Lebanese carrot snack
Peel the carrots and cut them in sticks. Squeeze the juice of the lemon on top of the carrots and let them rest for an hour. Stir couple of times in between. Sprinkle generously with salt and serve. You can leave them rest in the juice for a longer time too, no harm done.