When you grow up in a village, it’s very hard for you to get used to the tasteless fruits and vegetables that you find in the supermarkets in Beirut.
My father and his family have worked in the agriculture field for years, and dad is still very picky when it comes to choosing the fruits & vegetables that he buys.
My grandparents, both from my mother and father’s side – used to grow a lot of fruits & veggies in their own gardens, so, during all our childhood, we always had the best fresh products!
In addition, people in my region are known for their generosity, so you would rarely leave someone’s house without tons of fresh gifts, just picked form the garden! Today, you can still see that, but much less unfortunately, because people stopped working in agriculture for more profitable jobs.
For example, I rarely visit my mother’s uncle without leaving with a whole pack of 30 fresh eggs (that’s his main business), cherries when it’s the season, delicious jams prepared by his wife, keshek, kaak for Easter…
I remember my (maternal) grandma had a huge green plums tree, and we grew up climbing that tree to get the best fruits that were always above our reach as children.
She always grew artichokes, and I still remember how delicious they were! All the relatives coming from Beirut would ask her to prepare some when they used to visit her.
She also had strawberries – strawberries that are organically grown have a complete different taste than the commercial ones. We used to help her pick mint, eggplants, marrows, lettuces, parsley, spring onions… from the garden and despite she had a big one, she also used any empty milk container to plant flowers.
She had a grapes’ arbor outside the house so we always had the best grapes and vine leaves. She was an exceptional woman.
From my paternal grandparents’ side, where memories are way less, I only recall the persimmon tree from which I had the best “kakis” ever (that’s how we call them in my village), and two different cherry trees that were stolen every year before we could enjoy them.
Today, I still ask my father to get me vegetables with him from the village. He shops from the most expensive market there, but everything there is exceptional. Friends sometimes make fun of me when I tell them that even bananas, avocados, oranges and lemons are better there, since they are coastal fruits and should be better therefore in Beirut. But they truly are. Anything I buy from here is spoilt or rotten after 3 to 4 days (except for cabbage and endives, to be fair), while a bunch of mint from the village could last for more than a week!
When buying oranges form here, they become all rotten after 3 days! This is not acceptable! Oranges that I buy from the village last up to 2 weeks! And this applies to everything else, sadly.
Pick of the week
I was in the village yesterday, so I went shopping myself: eggplants, carrots, potatoes, onions, lemons, watercress, rocket leaves, beetroots…
One out of the many things that any foodie can enjoy while shopping in the village is certainly the wide choice of non- commercial herbs that you can occasionally find, depending on the season, and your luck of course.
Yesterday, I found two treasures: green garlic – it’s the season for that, and a new herb that I’ve never heard of, called “fedriyye”. I tried to find it online to be able to translate it, but it’s not mentioned anywhere.
I’ve tried green garlic previously with scrambled eggs and it’s really exceptional. As for the “fedriyye”, I was told it is used in frittatas, so I got some and I’ll be trying it soon! Stay tuned!