PRESERVING FOOD AND CULTURE THE LEBANESE WAY -- The very best memories connecting us to time and place are often stimulated by the tastes and smells of our childhood. Freshly-baked bread, hot from the oven, sweet homemade jam dribbling down our chins, or the burst of flavor in each dried grape—these memories bring a smile to our faces even as they call to mind the people who made them possible. Do you remember working alongside your grandmother as she lovingly preserved garden-fresh foods to set back for the winter? You watched Jiddo (grandfather) patiently prepare his arak, but could you reproduce his efforts from memory? Are you lucky enough that they kept written records of recipes gleaned from family history and years of experience? If so, count yourself among the very fortunate minority. The reality for many of us is that we no longer enjoy such a strong connection to our culinary roots. As much as we might wish the contrary, the beauty and simplicity of home-preserved pantry items, the mouneh, taken for granted during our childhood, often seems a lifetime away. In Barbara Abdeni Massaad’s book, Mouneh: Preserving Foods for the Lebanese Pantry, we’ve been thrown a lifeline to a piece of our cultural and culinary identity. So many things we would love to recreate for our own families become possible within these pages, thanks to the author’s diligent research, stunning photography, simply presented instructions and delightful stories.
About the Author
Barbara Abdeni Massaad is a food writer, TV host, cookbook author, and a regular contributor to international cooking magazines. She is the author of the internationally-acclaimed Soup for Syria: Recipes to Celebrate Our Shared Humanity and won the the Gourmand Cookbook Award and the International Academy of Gastronomy Award for Mouneh: Preserving Foods for the Lebanese Pantry. Born in Beirut, Lebanon, she moved to Florida at a young age. She gained her real culinary experience while helping her father in their family-owned Lebanese restaurant Kebabs and Things. After moving back to Lebanon in 1988, and completing university there, she decided to pursue her passion for cooking. Determined to gain proper experience within the culinary world, Barbara trained with several renowned chefs at Lebanese, Italian, and French restaurants. She is also a founding member of Slow Food Beirut and an active participant in the International Slow Food movement. She lives in Beirut with her husband and three children.
"Documenting traditions, recipes, and rituals ensures their survival; it is vital work. Barbara Massaad's beautiful new book Mouneh goes to the heart of Lebanese life. She is a writer and photographer, but above all she is a custodian of a wonderfully rich culture."-Alice Waters
"I loved Barbara Massaad's Man'oushe, and I feel the same about her latest book, Mouneh. In both books, she opens up the world of Lebanese gastronomy in a unique way, connecting it to Lebanese culture while providing wonderful mouth-watering recipes. I couldn't ask for more." — Paula Wolfert
"Barbara Abdeni Massad has taken 'the feeling' that an old Lebanese woman had about a 'pinch' of this and 'a drop' of that and transformed it into complete, accurate recipes for the supermarket generation."