Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Mazaher from Maghdousheh

This is the season of mazaher (orange blossom water) in Lebanon. Mazaher is made by distilling the flowers of the bitter orange (Citrus aurentium) , and is very popular in Lebanon where it is used for perfuming sweets and in drinks. The season is very short (mid March to early April) and this year it has been shortened even more by two khamseen events which brought temperatures up to 33 celcius with hot dry winds.

One of the most famous mazaher in Lebanon is made in the Southern village of Maghdousheh, right above the city of Saida. In spring, Maghdousheh smells like paradise because of the thousands of bitter orange trees that come into flower at the same time. This is where I went today to take pictures for a forthcoming website (and book) on traditional Lebanese foods. Above is a photo of a man harvesting the orange blossoms in a sea of trees.

Here's a close up of the fragrant orange blossom.

And here's a proud producer showing his precious mazaher, with behind him the wood-fired alembic.

1 comment:

Leila said...

I am so excited. My aunt (mar't 'ammi) Amal Khoury is from Maghdoushe and I have a half liter of her mazaher. As I've said elsewhere, my mother used it as social currency when she was teaching at AUB. Her Beirut colleagues thought she wasn't very fancy, which she isn't - she's more of a frugal, modest Protestant lady and doesn't wear lots gold or any couture; but they were REALLY impressed that she had access to large quantities of Maghdoushe mazaher. Mom gave bottles of it away to great acclaim.

These Beirut colleagues and friends never came down south to visit, by the way. THe idea of going to Mieh-Mieh (30 minutes from Beirut) was too foreign. But they'll take the mazaher, yes!