A taste of Beirut….

When I think of Beirut I think of my Mum. Although she is of Armenian descent she was born in Beirut and considers herself a Beiruti through and through. After meeting many Lebanese women she certainly has the qualities and mannerisms of one! She knows five languages and what she lacks in height she certainly makes up for in personality. She grew up in Ras Beirut but had to move to Sydney, Australia, with her family when she was 15. Now she lives in England and yearns to be able to take my brother and myself to Lebanon one day.

Unfortunately, being the daughter of a British father I have not yet had the opportunity to explore the playground of my mother’s childhood, and what I lack in first-hand experience of the Middle East I certainly make up for in my love for its cuisine.

One of the best things my mother has introduced me to is Lebanese meals. Food of every colour: from hot pink pickled turnips and vibrant red tomato paste to green za’atar and apricot fruit leather. Her influence could explain my disdain for boring English roast dinners (controversial here I know) and my love for all food containing nuts and spices. We usually have a ‘feast’ of Lebanese and Armenian food on the weekend. Here I have included an image of chicken with za’atar, falafel, hoummos, baba ghannouj, spinach with chickpeas, rice pilaffs, carrots in butter and desserts of ma’amoul, halva and baklava, which I hope to taste authentically in Beirut very soon!

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Lizzy Vartanian Collier is a London-based writer with a special interest in contemporary Middle Eastern Art. She has a BA in Art History and an MA in Contemporary Art and Art Theory of Asia and Africa from the School of Oriental and African Studies. She runs the Gallery Girl blog and also writes for After Nyne, Ibraaz and Reorient.

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