Monday, August 20, 2007


It's the mouneh (food that is stored for consuming during the year) season. My cousin planted a field of sesame this year as a summer crop. Sesame is a good crop because it is planted at the end of spring on the fallow lands that have not been planted with wheat during the same year and no fertilizers are ever used and it sells well on the local market. Yields are variable because sesame is difficult to seed by hand (which is how we seed it in the south of Lebanon). He will harvest it in a couple of weeks and I have decided that this year I'll make my own tahini. I'm disgusted by the industrial tahini, because i have seen how it is made and because there is a widespread belief (and some evidence) that titanium oxide is used to give a white color to the final product. I guess I'll just toast the sesame lightly and paste it in the blender. Is there another recipe?

Here's my list of mouneh, all grown and made in my tiny little village in south Lebanon. This year, I want at least 60% of my food to come from this mouneh:

Chickpeas: 20 kilos
Broadbeans: 20 kilos
Lentils: 10 k
Split lentils: 10k
Freek (smoked wheat) 10 k
Burghul: coarse: 10k, fine: 10k
Sesame: 5 kilos
Onions: 10 k
Olive oil: 40 liters
Olives: 10 kilos
Kishk (burghul-goats yogurt mix, dried and pulverized): 5 kilos
Goat labneh in olive oil: 10 kilos
Local wheat flour (for bread making): 50 kilos
Zaatar: 3 kilos
Fig preserves: 3 kilos
Dried figs: 10 kilos
Carob molasse: 3 kilos
Pomegranate molasse: 3 kilos
Honey: 5 kilos
Qawarma: meat confit 5 kilos


Leila said...

My dad told me years ago how to preserve figs in syrup, and I wrote it up on the internet. Here's the link to my blog:

I have no idea whether this "recipe" works as written. Does this look like the way you preserve figs?

Leila said...

re: tahini - in my California neighborhood there's a natural food store that has been in business since the 1930s - they grind their own flour (or they used to), make their own nut butters and so forth. I get my tahini from them - roasted or unroasted are the options. If I bring my own container I get a slight discount. No titanium dioxide in this stuff.

This store is struggling somewhat now that several other stores in the neighborhood offer "natural" foods and bulk items; the Food Mill tends to sell a lot of vitamins and processed "health food" items. But I rely on them for staples and bulk foods.

Anonymous said...

This year, as in years past, I expect that at least 60 per cent of my food will come from seasonal produce, fish and meat. At today's market, I found tomatoes (brandywines, green zebras and so many more, all sizes and shapes) shishitos, okra (green and black), pattypan and avocado squash, long beans, lima beans, stone fruit including late greengages and a few last cherries, blueberries, blackberries, chick lobsters, swordfish, pollack, conch, mussels, white and yellow sweet corn, eggs (pullet, duck, pheasant).... and soon the bounty will change toward acorn, butternut, hubbard, kabocha squash; and apples--Cox's orange pippins, golden russets, and ladies; with oysters from Wellfleet and Totten Virginicas and Skookums and Quilcenes--and all the fall mushrooms, and winter truffles--

My cousins work in banks and labs and offices and I don't know their number or most of their names.

Leila said...

Yo, anonymous, where do you live? Tell us that much.

Rami - 10 kilos of onions doesn't seem like a lot for a family for a year. Do you buy supplemental onions? because two batches of mjaddara would take a kilo of onions. And 10 kilos of olives - that doesn't seem like a heck of a lot of olives. Wouldn't your family eat more than 10 kilos of olives in one year? Maybe I just don't know because I don't keep or buy in bulk.

Rami Zurayk said...

hi leila.

10 k of olives is ok, that's about how much i used this year. for the onions, i agree with you, but i have a problem of storage space. and the beauty of lebanon is that you can almost always eat in season if you purchase produce coming from the different parts of the country. because of the local climates (combination of elevation and distance from sea), seasons are protracted for most produce. Of course it is difficult to ensure that what you buy is from local origin because there is no such quality system in Lebanon. But i work with many small organic producers which i helped organize through our CSA company "Healthy Basket" and they come from the 4 corners of Lebanon, so we can always have good quality produce almost anytime of the season. And of course, Souk el Tayyeb the producers' market is held every week and one can find very good local foods there.