Day 19~ February 19~ Lebanon


the bakeress at 'souk el tayeb'~ Beirut~ Lebanon

I don’t think I can remember a single meal at our home in Lebanon that did not include Lebanese bread. There is a saying in Lebanon “between us is bread and salt” which means that we are friends, we are close, we are on ‘sharing life’ terms. And as a child I remember that neighbors’ doors were always open and we children were able to just walk in and out throughout the neighborhood without any type of formality. We had a neighbor living right across the little road from us and she used to have a special old fashioned oven called saj outside her home where she made fresh bread. I still remember smelling the firewood burning signaling the start of the bread making process and running up to her home with wide eyes as she happily made us her special bread called “mtabbkah”. This was a flat loaf sprinkled with sugar and then folded to let the sugar melt inside and it was mouthwatering.

With the modernism of Lebanon, these types of ovens are becoming a rarity. I was so thrilled to see the special traditional market in the center of Beirut (souk el tayyeb) that celebrates old traditions and the best of homemade delicacies that Lebanon has to offer.

the juice seller

Categories: lebanon, life, PhotographyTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

173 comments

  1. Mimo, Thanks for sharing your memories. I could almos smell the mtabbkah. My grandparents were from the Ukrain and my grandmother fixed something similar (it was a shame that she had to do it indoors). But the aroma still drove us little guys crazy.
    Mimo, thank you for following my blog “This, that and Another thing”. I have another blog that you may like. It is starting to fill up with my short stories that I am pulling from Amazon and releasing for free on the following blog: http://adirondackmountains.wordpress.com/2012/03/07/29/
    Please forgive me for posting my blog on your comment section. I just thought that you may enjoy these short stories.
    And thank you again for sharing your trip and memories.

  2. Beautiful post. Got me home sick πŸ™‚

  3. Reblogged this on Usman Aleem.

  4. Great post. Thank you for sharing. re-blogged.

  5. wonderful Pictures.Love your Post

  6. Love your post! . . . My husband is Lebanese, and has related similar stories!!

    http://arabianmusings.wordpress.com/

  7. it feels as though u are there ! wonderful πŸ™‚

  8. Very beautiful pictures, and inspiring blog indeed! I have never been to Lebanon, but very much enjoyed Lebanese food in Dubai… thank you for reminding me of very fond memories of divinely delicious saj

  9. A lovely blog with beautiful photos. Brings back very fond memories of staying with old friends back in 2001. The amazing food and the wonderful warm hospitality. I was always made to feel completely welcome and at home. Looking forward to sharing this with my family one day. shokran!

  10. Beautifully written and absolutely brilliant photography! Congratulations on Freshly Pressed!

  11. I saw and read Feb 19 post: I still feel my mouth watering, especially the smell of hot bread on the saj

  12. What a nice post! And two breathtaking photos..Your prose entices me to want to try mtabbkah…What a fascinating piece…Thank you!

  13. Mimo … Congratulation of Freshly Pressed … and I smile to think I saw this post early and try to stop daily.

  14. Someone said, the best pictures are the simplest pictures. Can’t relate these immediately to good composition or good lighting or good technique or good timing. Boy, it’s probably a combination of all. The message photographer wanted, got DELIVERED!

  15. I’ve been to Lebanon several times we built a building there I love it.. The food is out of this world doesn’t matter what your eating it just taste good, fresh, clean.. A beautiful country. Looking forward to going this summer.

  16. I saw the photo on Freshly Presses and I was like that has to be Mimo’s photo and it is! Congrats!

  17. What beautiful photos, and a heart-warming story to go along with it.

  18. Classic and Brilliant Photos! Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

  19. Proof that photography is magical.

  20. What a beautiful project! I am so glad I found your blog, will look to check out more of your work!

  21. Thanks you for this great post.

  22. These pictures are stunning. Perfect timing to see these as my daughter has been in Beirut the last week. We’ve spent many years in the Middle East but I’ve never been to Lebanon much to my disappointment. And just as in Cairo I love the old traditions more than the new, so it looks similar in Lebanon. Thank you for taking me back to the Middle East this morning.

  23. These pics are really descent…………..Gud Work mimo!!!!!!!!!

  24. Congratulations!!!! Well deserved … beautiful photos and well written! Love it!

  25. Those are absolutely beautiful photographs! You’ve got a hand for taking great photos!

  26. Hey Mimo
    congrats on being Freshly Pressed….well deserved…I hope you’ll still have time to talk to your old bloggin’ pals.
    Incidentally, we went to a Lebanese restaurant in Birmingham last night purely because of reading your blog…Called ‘Syriana’ I dont really know how authentic it was but we did enjoy what we had.
    Once again well done on getting pressed..
    πŸ™‚

  27. I agree! It’s sad that cultural traditions get lost in the process of progression. However, it’s also unfair to expect developing countries to halt modernisation.
    I wish it weren’t the only way to survive in a capitalist economy.

  28. Beautiful thoughts and fantastic photographs. You’re indeed a great documentary photographer.

  29. Thank you for sharing beautiful, honest pictures and your culture

  30. Very nice entry! Bread of all kinds imprints one’s memory…I can still smell the fresh bread and homemade cinnamon buns my grandmother made over fifty years ago! Thanks for stirring my olfactory memory…your post makes me think about wood and wood-fire smoke too!

    • Now you made me remember the wonderful wood ovens called Tannour in Lebanon too. They were made out of clay and the bread was cooked on their walls. Thanks for your comment!

  31. Lebanese cuisine is among the finest in the world. All their grilled meats, olives, and (of course) great bread. I also think that more should be done to present Lebanon as a traveler’s destination.

  32. It reminds me of times when I was visiting India and they always had chapatis. Thanks for this post. Interesting blog.

  33. Excellent pictures! Very inspiring as well!

  34. There are still few of them, but its harder to find them than before.

    There are two places @ karakas – hamra sell saj mana’eesh and one just few meters befote jonyah markets

    I always loved Saj, a lebanese friend let me spend a full day at his parent’s saj backery in Zehlah, and i enjoyed it the most

    Despite the many things that i won’t miss when I leave after a year of stay in lebanon. I will, for sure, miss the saj

  35. Lebanon is a beautiful place to be….. nice pics though… πŸ™‚

  36. great pictures! i am lebanese by mariage and Lebanon is my soul country! Can’t wait to came to Leb. in summer!
    Thank you for the amazing pictures!

  37. Aw this post reminds me of my childhood in Iran. Thanks for the nostalgia!

  38. Stunning portraits and lovely story. I’m living in Dubai right now so lucky to have some delicious Lebanese bakeries nearby! Congrats on being FP’d.

  39. I too am Lebanese, and growing up in a Lebanese family meant Lebanese food everywhere, the refusal of the choice to “not eat” at least something, and the wonderful scent of fresh baked Lebanese bread, grapeleaves, or kibba.

    Reading this post makes me want to go to my ancestors country and see the culture they came from. Even more so, I’m craving a slice of lebanese bread stuffed with taboulla as we speak πŸ™‚

  40. These are some amazing photographs. There are some true feelings being expressed here. I hope you continue taking wonderful portraits. πŸ™‚

  41. Simply masterpieces.

  42. I am from Mumbai and we have certain places where we get authentic Lebanese food and I love Lebanese cuisine as well πŸ™‚

  43. Reblogged this on Emily Lewis and commented:
    I am Lebanese, yet the culture is almost completely lost on my family, besides the cooking. We cook kibbeh, grape leaves, pita bread, cousa, bet-ley-we, and other delicious items most think are of Greek origins.

  44. I am half Lebanese and my late grandmother thought my mother who is Filipino to bake Mammol…and also us…

    Love the pics! Following….

  45. image contrast is interesting, look more alive and inviting questions in a photograph

  46. Amazing work. Love the portraits!

  47. I really like it. You expressed my feelings. All I need to do is change from “Lebanese” to “Turkish”.
    We have exactly the same tradition.

  48. It sounds very good, I ever see a similar bread, but i din’t have a taste

  49. Great photos! I am a WordPress photographer as well, so I appreciate when I see photos on other’s blogs that inspire me. Great job.

  50. Mimo, I’m Lebanese staying in Dubai….I’m happy of this post , thank you and God bless you

  51. I love you pictures, Great job.

  52. nice post, i love the smell of newly baked bread.. congrats on being FP.

  53. Very classic photoes ! Btw I also have a posting that contains black and white video slide show. Here http://priajelita.wordpress.com/2011/11/24/paint-it-black/ Please visit it if you have time. Thank you

  54. Ohh I love eating ethnic specialties. Please give me some of that bread! πŸ™‚

  55. Thank you for your post! Keep up the good job and have a great aloha week! ^_^

  56. My father’s best friend is Lebanese and he is the most incredible baker I know. Now that he is retired he just bakes and bakes and bakes all day every day and gives away everything he makes to his friends and family.

  57. My mouth is watering just reading this post, that bread sounds divine! Great pictures πŸ™‚

  58. I really enjoyed this post, and wanted to thank you for it. My mother is from Beirut, but we’ve never been able to go back and experience the culture, it’s beautiful to read a description of it. However, I have to say, it does leave me wishing! Being of Lebanese descent but an American woman, I’ve always admired the culture.

  59. Hiya Mimo! Congrats on getting “freshly pressed”. Lebanese food__love it and then some. But then of course, I’m biased. LOL πŸ™‚

  60. Reblogged this on writermonkey15 and commented:
    Too beautiful not to repost. It’s a nice thought that my parents grew up in such a beautiful culture

  61. Love the pics and I’m quite fond of the bread and I’m not fond of the saying too. Thanks for sharing.

  62. Congrats on making freshly pressed. Please follow my blog ThisTrailerSucks.Com , THANKS!

  63. Amazing photos! They are truly breathtaking. Would love to have a taste of that delicious bread!

  64. Beautiful portraits… and Lebanese food is so delicious!

  65. Reblogged this on kimboslices and commented:
    great

  66. All of your photos are beautiful!!! I really like the sepia/black and white filter you use too

  67. Brilliant portraits here. The stories these faces could tell…

  68. Simply gorgeous….love these photos….and craving Lebanese food, too!

  69. Beautiful photos and lovely post. It reminds me on the few summers we spent in Lebanon – both of my grandmas lived right across from each other and we’d spend our time going back and forth, knowing there was always fresh bread and delicious meals, snacks and lots of love waiting for us in either apartment! Congrats on being freshly pressed!

  70. Nice pics..love the juice seller!

  71. the bread sounds very tasty. great pics.

  72. Lovely portraits as always…thanks for sharing your memoirs with us!

  73. Beautiful photos and I would love to try the bread. I love great bread!

  74. Ohh this reminds me of my grandmother.. My tΓ©ta used to bake the saj bread too, and we used to eat it fresh with butter and sugar! Yummi! Thanks for the memories πŸ™‚

  75. Beautiful Mimo…words and pictures… I love the sort of soft black and white…less harsh works really well

  76. great moments captures, but i think is time for the wide angle….. which is going to get you closer to the bread.

  77. As always, great photos! I’ve had Lebanese bread before, but never freshly baked. I’m sure that’s a real treat and to be made on a wood fire, ahhh…

  78. This reads me of a personal story. A long-time friend of our family was Lebanese, and I recall him raving about the bread and Lebanese food in general. With him in mind, our dinner group hosted a Lebanese night several years ago … and I recall telling him about it and he was thrilled. Meanwhile, food is a great cultural event – and many times, the essence lies in the traditional bread.

  79. Thank you for opening my eyes – and heart – a little!

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