According to the tradition of Lebanese cuisine: sitting together at the table and eating from each other’s hands

Video footage by Kostas Cazenas

Tasting local cuisine is one of the best ways to get to know and experience the peculiarities of a foreign culture. ABU ADAMAS DAYEH, a Lebanese who has been living in Lebanon for thirty years, says that Lebanese cuisine is rich and diverse because there are different cultures that have come and settled here since ancient times. Lithuania has long been known as a multicultural country, so today we are happy to not only taste but also cook our favorite dishes in Lebanon.

Abu Adam Dayeh, a Lebanese living in Lithuania, familiar to our readers, invites us to prepare tabbouleh salad, the main dish of Lebanese cuisine. As the guest of the program said, it is the main dish on the table that shows the hard work of the owner and the quality of vegetables from his garden. Tabbouleh is arguably the highest quality in Lebanese cuisine.

Although Abu Adam Dayeh has lived in Lithuania longer than in Lebanon, living here without the national dishes of his hometown is boring, to say the least. He says: “The food in Lebanon is very diverse, with lots of vegetables and fruits. The cuisine is also very rich, as you can find recipes from many countries around the world. Since the time of the Phoenicians, Lebanon has been the center of the world where different cultures have come and met.

The guest says that this is the reason for the variety of food. “Also, you can notice the difference in the food that prevails in the country itself: South Lebanon cooks one way, North Lebanon cooks another way. Even the name of the same recipe is different depending on the place,” jokes Abu Adam Dayeh, talking about regional specialties and saying that there are so many different dishes in Lebanon that you can have different dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner in the same day. and throughout the year they are different every day, and the same food can be repeated only after a year.

Video footage by Kostas Cazenas
Video footage by Kostas Cazenas
Video footage by Kostas Cazenas

Abu Adam Dayeh remembers his native Lebanon and takes it seriously. When he recently returned to Tyre, one of the oldest cities in the world, where he came from, for the first time in two years since the pandemic, he noticed that much had changed in the country.

“The explosion, the problem of Syrian refugees, economic difficulties, almost half a century of unrest, wars – the whole world knows about it. That is why the Lebanese are a strong nation, their people are patient, they help each other and do not leave their neighbors without food or shelter, says the interviewer. “Many foreigners who visit Lebanon cry when they leave because they have seen a piece of paradise in a country where people are struggling and impoverished.”

Abu Adam Daeh calls Lithuania his second homeland: “I love it very much. My children were born here, and I myself lived and grew up here longer than in Lebanon. I have seen how Lithuania has changed since the collapse of the Soviet Union to today. Lithuania is changing for the better. I have repeatedly said that this country has achieved achievements that other countries could not achieve in a hundred years in thirty years.”

The Lebanese, who remember his visit to Lithuania, say that the people of Lithuania are friendly and received him very warmly. “I’m not interested in what other countries of the world say about Lithuania, because I see the living reality, only I’m interested,” says the guest about Lithuania.

Lebanese people opened not only their families, but also several businesses in Lithuania. Although the cafe has been sold, food production is still an integral part of everyday life. Today, Abu Adam advises to listen to the music of Fairuz, who has become an icon and symbol of Lebanon, while cooking and not to forget love, because no one wants to eat without love.

And this time, tabbouleh salad is on the plate. The first look at this recipe is a simple salad with a few simple ingredients: parsley, onion leaves, lettuce, tomatoes, lemon and bulgur (cracked wheat). Although the ingredients are few, Abu Adam assures that the recipe will not change, otherwise it would not be a traditional table.

The most important thing when making tabula is to prepare all the ingredients well and properly. As Abu Adam said, the owner’s love for food is reflected in the quality of food – freshness, taste, consistency, proportions: how everything is selected, washed, cut. Two main flavors play in this dish – squeezed lemon juice and olive oil. The interviewer reminds us that the oldest olive tree in the world grows in Lebanon, so olive oil is the king of the Lebanese table. And it’s not a secret – this salad is the most fashionable, festive table food for summer and spring.

Recalling the traditions of the Lebanese kitchen, Abu Adam says that the main housewife is usually the mother. But everyone helps with cooking, even the children who run to pick vegetables from the garden. Until the guests arrive, the house turns into a beehive, because everyone prepares together, cooks together and sits at the table together. The mother is the last to sit at the table – no one eats until the host comes to the table. And after sitting down, it is customary to feed each other from their hands. According to Abu Adam, the gesture means a lot in Lebanon.

Tables (Tabbouleh) salad

Parsley

Green onion

Tomatoes

Dried or fresh mint

Lemons

Olive oil

Salt

The project is partially funded by the Department of Minorities.

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