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Lebanese party dishes


The greatest parties in Lebanon
Claudia Roden Writer
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And then he took me on a trip in the mountains. Because Lebanon has the most incredible variety of foods. Because of its geography partly, because there's a lot of sea. And long strip of sea. And then there's a plain, and then there's mountains. And there's valleys and rivers, and so there's mountain food. There's food of the sea. And the food of the rivers by the rivers. But there's also so many minorities. There are different types of Muslims. Different types of Christians. Maronites, and there's orthodox Christians and there's Drews, there are so many communities and they all. There is Armenians as well. All have their different cuisines. And so, because people who were vulnerable, like Christians in a Muslim country, usually had... they lived in mountains because you were more able to defend yourself. So, a lot of the villages were Christian villages. But also Drews.

And so, he took me to the villages that made products, artisanal products. They would make pomegranate molasses. They would make also orange blossom and they would make a tahina, for instance. And so, we went around because he was then beginning to be what he became, a food activist. And I'll explain later what a food activist is. So, he knew all the artisans. And so on. But the most magnificent place that I went with him... and his boyfriend, who is a fashion designer, who is the best fashion designer – Rabigh he is called – making evening dresses, and wedding dresses. And they were known to give the greatest parties in Lebanon. And I did go to one of their parties where they had invited 50 people. And it was in one of these incredibly old wonderful big flats that were huge. Rabigh had been in charge of the décor, it was incredible décor. And Kamal was the cook. And he cooked together with little – I'm saying little because they were short – young Sri Lankan cooks. Because they, by then, had a lot of foreign immigrant cooks who came and of course would have been cheaper, I suppose. But they were there cooking, helping him when he had a party. And so, we cooked and cooked, and I helped. And I learnt a lot from there.

Claudia Roden (b. 1936) is an Egyptian-born British cookbook writer and cultural anthropologist of Sephardi/Mizrahi descent. She is best known as the author of Middle Eastern cookbooks including A Book of Middle Eastern Food, The New Book of Middle Eastern Food and The Book of Jewish Food.

Listeners: Nelly Wolman

Claudia Roden talking to her granddaughter Nelly Wolman about her life in food.

Tags: Lebanon, Kamel Muzawak

Duration: 3 minutes, 53 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2022

Date story went live: 04 December 2023