Saturday, May 23, 2009

Marach Street, Burj Hammoud

I went to buy fabric for the Bedouin cushions (we have a name for the brand "Nawf", a word used to describe a woman of magical beauty). One of the graphic design students had told me to check Marach street in Burj Hammoud, which is the predominantly Armenian district of Beirut. I found pure cotton popeline in various colors, ideal for the cushions, but I was also awed by Marach street, which is the closest thing to a souk in present day Beirut. What attracted me most was the quantity of shops selling traditional and not so traditional foodstuffs side by side. The place resembles the Aleppo souk much more than Lebanon's souks, and the products are rarely seen in Lebanon. These include a wide variety of dried fruits and vegetables, like dried,ready-to-stuff aubergines and bell peppers strung together. We usually dry and string together dried okra in Lebanon, but I had never seen other vegetables.

There were also cases of Damascene roses used to make rose water and jams with the petals, and vine leaves for stuffing and rolling.

I also found huge artichoke hearts cleaned and prepared and beautiful nuts and dried fruits including several types of raisins as well as dried cherries. There was also malban with nuts, a sort of long sausage made with nuts and with a paste prepared with crushed raisins. This is a Syrian specialty. The shops look strange because they have everything in them, from fabricated sweets to natural terroir products. One of them had arranged different grains: wheat, barley, 3 types of burghul, kidney beans, white haricots, lentils all in a very nice tiled mosaic.

In the same street, I also bought FABULOUS Armenian meat pies (lahm bi `ajeen) from a tiny bakery: 500 LL each (30 cents). This is the cheapest excellent meal you can have in Lebanon.

1 comment:

Garage Sales For Gaza said...

I'm going to contact that Bizzare Foods guy, Andrew Zimmern.
I don't think I've seen him do a middle eastern food show.