Two people in the last 24 hours have had a similar answer to my question: What is the appeal of Lebanon for you?
A 24-year old Dutch man answered: “I love the warmth of the people; and I enjoy watching the crazy driving“.
A 50 year-old French man said: ” Beyond the warmth of the inhabitants, I love the chaos of the country (le bordel)”.
Coming from highly organized countries, they see Lebanon as a place where anything goes; a place where people are extraverted and fun and super-friendly and undisciplined and adaptable and enterprising.
An extended visit to Lebanon also reveals a richness and diversity in landscapes and cuisines; take this dish for instance: the kammooneh is a typical Southern Lebanese creation, an unusual pesto-like blend of spices combining basil and walnuts and chili peppers and cumin and rose petals; normally combined with bulgur, here I mixed it with potatoes for a rich and summery potato salad with a twist.
- A handful of basil leaves
- A handful of mint leaves
- 1 or 2 chili peppers
- A handful of walnuts
- 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
- a few dried rose petals
- olive oil, as needed
- one smallish onion, cut in quarters
- salt, pepper, as needed
- one half-pound of potatoes
- Boil the potatoes and cool a bit; peel and dice; set aside.
- In a food processor or blender, place all the ingredients and process to a paste; taste and adjust seasoning.
- Mix with the diced potatoes and serve at room temperature.
Recipe inspired by Nada Saleh Splendor of the Levant and adapted.