“We travel to learn; and I have never been in any country where they did not do something better than we do it, think some thoughts better than we think, catch some inspiration from heights above our own.” ~ Maria Mitchell
This photograph taken in Lebanon feels like a good choice for this quote about learning from other cultures when we travel, and bringing ideas and inspiration back with us when we return home.
Lebanon has a long and rich history dating back to the era of Phoenician sea-traders who plied their trade across the world from their home base in this ‘fertile crescent’. Indeed, this part of the world is often considered to be the cradle of civilisation, and a place of great knowledge and learning.
One of the traditions that most appeals to me about life in Lebanon is the commitment to creating mouneh (preserves) with seasonal produce in order to enjoy it all year round. Although the art of jam and chutney making hasn’t been lost in the UK, it’s certainly not universal, even with the small resurgence its enjoyed of late. But in Lebanon, making mouneh is a must, and you will find all manner of fruit jams, whole fruits preserved in syrup, vegetable and herb pickles, and even labneh (strained yoghurt) formed into balls and preserved in oil.
As someone who loves preserving myself, mouneh speaks to my soul, especially when I enter specialist mouneh shops lined with shelf after shelf of beautiful preserves, including the world’s best apricot jam…
In 2010 we took a wonderful small-group gastronomic tour of Lebanon which took us from north to south, from city to rural countryside, everywhere tasting the best food this warm and hospitable country has to offer.
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