Lunch with a writer/archaelogist in Beirut

June 22, 2010  •  Category:


When Fadi Stephan invited me to lunch, I did not know what to expect; I had read his wonderful  bookLe Berceau du Monde (tr: cradle of the world, to be translated at UT Austin), knew that he had taught archaelogy and semitic languages, knew of his family, but that was the  extent of it.

What a feast!

Instead of fossilized shrimps,  we had a  sea bass risotto , called seyadeyeh: rice is cooked in a seafood  broth of caramelized onions and copious amounts of cumin and served with baked sea bass.

Fattoush salad, an endive and asparagus salad.

Mussaka, which is a vegetarian affair in Lebanon, composed of melting eggplants, onions, tomatoes and chick peas (with  lots of garlic).

Assorted French cheeses, mastic and pistachio ice-cream from Hanna (the best ice-cream maker in Beirut), Lebanese beer and Ksara Chardonnay, sweet anise and turmeric cake or sfoof, pistachios, walnuts, ….

Fadi really spoilt us today.


42 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Rosa says:

    A terrific meal!



  2. Lyndsey says:

    Wow, it sounds like a great lunch! What a treat for you!

  3. peter says:

    Joumana, you’ve fallen right into Beirut life without missing a beat! I have my eye on a mastic and pistachio ice cream.

  4. SYLVIA says:

    Joumana, the lunch that you had looks very nutritious, and festive. Its been said to find the most original recipes you need to be invited to someones house. I love how the occasion and the season dictates the meals. Thank you for all those recipes, they will always remain staples of my repertoire.

  5. Amber @Almost Vegan says:

    It certainly looks like you were spoiled!
    The Lebanese mussaka sounds great :]

  6. Faith says:

    That is quite a feast! It sounds amazing!

  7. Katerina says:

    This sounds like a great lunch. I have never heard of Fadi Stephan. The only Lebanese writer I know is Amin Maalouf. I have read almost all of his books.

  8. Nadege says:

    I wish my beginning of summer was as wonderful as yours.
    I truly envy you.

  9. Suman Singh says:

    ahh..your description to the food made my mouth watering…amazing the pistachio ice-cream..just heaven…

  10. Patty Price says:

    Yes, it looks as if you were spoiled by such a feast, but I’m sure you really enjoyed and appreciated every morsel! I love the mussaka, how delicious it looks! The sea bass risotto looks pretty good too.

  11. Devaki says:

    Dear Joumana – You know there is something about Beirut that is so close to India. I don’t know if it is that rustic quality in the food or the love from dried fruits and nuts and earthy flavors but you are giving me so much joy with glimpses of your life back home.

    I adore mussaka – I had it once at a Lebanese dinner in Sydney but I distinctly remembers theirs had no chick peas. I wonder why?Sea bass rissotto – just saying the words makes my mouth water.

    Keep writing….I want to keep reading 🙂

    Hugs, Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  12. theUngourmet says:

    What a feast! Everything sounds delicious! I love pistachio ice cream! ;P

  13. Krista says:

    What a splendid feast, Joumana! So lovely to spend a meal with such an interesting man. 🙂

  14. Christine @ Fresh says:

    I love moussaka. This looks like a fabulous lunch.

  15. The Little Teochew says:

    Wow Joumana, that is quite a spread! I love the sound of Mussaka! Thank you for linking the recipe … I will try that. Also that pistachio ice-cream is just divine. You’re so lucky!

  16. Sarah Galvin says:

    What a wonderful lunch! You must be well connected!

  17. A Canadian Foodie says:

    And the conversation….? Or did he invite you as he knew you were the consummate foodie? The musaka sounds yummy – there are so many kinds, I am learning.

    • Joumana says:

      Valerie: we are to meet again and the conversation that day was shared between other people; we both live in the same village in the summer and I will post on those encounters again.

  18. Ivy says:

    What an interesting encounter and the lunch sounds fabulous. I am keeping that version of vegetarian moussaka at the back of my mind to make in the future.

  19. Cherine says:

    What a great meal 🙂 Where is Hanna located in Beirut? I wanna try it when I go down 🙂 looks really the best ice cream!

  20. Sasa says:

    Exalted company you keep Joumana! Glad you’re enjoying your trip. Also, I found Anissa’s blog through your blog roll, she’s very inspiring too.

  21. HistoryOf GreekFood says:

    Joumana, now you know how it is to dine with archaeologists. Most of them are considered dedicated gourmands!

  22. Sridevi says:

    what a wonderful feast!!! Looks like you have terribly enjoyed. Pistachio Icecream looks lovely.

  23. Angie's Recipes says:

    That’s a FEAST! I can tell that you enjoy every single minute in Beirut!

  24. 12th Man says:

    The Mussaka looks beyond words!

  25. lisaiscooking says:

    Sounds like a fantastic meal! I’d love to try making a vegetarian mussaka.

  26. Bria @ WestofPersia says:

    Wow, fantastic. And I bet the conversation was lively and engaging, too.

  27. Katie@Cozydelicious says:

    Your photos are so beautiful. I love when you include shots of people and surroundings – it makes me feel like I’m there eating with you! I want that ice cream!

  28. Nadji says:

    J’ai été tout de suite voir les références du livre de Fadi Stephan et je les ai notées.
    Un repas délicieux + une conversation des plus intéressantes, que demander de plus?
    A bientôt.

  29. Lentil Breakdown says:

    It all looks fabulous! That pistachio ice cream is just the way I like it—delicate, lots of pistachios and without that fake green color. Am so curious to taste the anise and turmeric cake. Love anise but never had cake with turmeric.

  30. Lori Lynn says:

    Sounds like a very special day. The food looks awesome. You are all very fortunate…

  31. sweffling says:

    Oh what a meal! These suggestions and recipes just keep getting better and better. Thank you.

  32. kristy says:

    I remember I’ve seen the top picture recipes somewhere before! I bet this tasted super delish. Yeah, I think you guys are really spoilt by Mr Fadi. Such lovely meal you’re having there.
    Regards, Kristy

  33. Cara says:

    Sea bass risotto sounds incredible!

  34. Mathai says:

    Sounds like a great meal! 🙂

  35. FOODESSA says:

    I would have an affair with this festive feast of goodies any time…where do I sign up?
    Aren’t you having an interesting time;o)
    You’d be the perfect person I would probably never get tired of…always on the go go.
    Ciao for now, Claudia

  36. Sweet Artichoke says:

    Woaw, the lunch looks delicious, the sea brass risotto and the moussaka look amazing. And I am bookmarking Fadi Stephan’s book which I had not heard of!

  37. Mimi says:

    Amazing meal.

  38. Fady Stephan says:

    Chere Joumana,
    Quelle belle description de ces nourritures terrestres d’un jour! Invite tes amis à se joindre à nous pour un prochain repas dans le décor magique de Deir el Kamar (le couvent de la lune), où nous leur offrirons des aliments entièrement et uniquement consacrés à cet astre, puisque le génial Levy Strauss a découvert que la nourriture obeit à l’un de ces deux habitants du ciel, lune ou soleil. Alors je te laisse imaginer et choisir : tabboule, kebbe naye, chanklich, laban bikhiar, fattouche, etc.
    Ta photo est ravissante. Quand incarneras-tu l’héroine de mon livre : Lady Esther Stanhope ?

  39. margaret amato says:

    Joumana.A friend gave me your site thinking I would be Interested.Boy! Am I! I was this summer in Beirut in July and part of August.Went to Der El Amar 2 times , as I am looking into my maternal “Teta” family history [Soussa] and met with the ‘Mokhtara’ who was the perfect hostess and showed me around the house.She also recommended Mr. Stephan’s book witch I bought in Beirut and am reading now.I also very briefly met Mr. Ne’ma who was on his way to a funeral .I am thrilled to have found this site,maybe on my next trip I can meet you and Mr. Stephan along with Adonis Ne’ma.

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