The good old days of making mooneh ( provisions for the winter) are over for a large majority of Lebanese folks. My grandmother’s generation made mooneh dedicating days to making pickles and olives and jams and labneh balls and eggplant makdoos and moghrabiyeh and kishk. She was born sometime in 1895. Nobody bothered to tell her when exactly. She could crochet and sew and cook and knit and embroider and make mooneh. All of which she excelled at. My mother’s generation was skilled in cooking and jam-making . My generation is trying to maintain the traditional methods of cooking with some difficulty. My children’s generation is learning the joys of fast-food and frozen food.
However, there is one tradition that will remain in Lebanese homes globally. Drying fresh mint from the garden ( or the containers) . I have seen it done in countless kitchens and patios and balconies. Spreading out a large towel and laying all the mint leaves to dry in the sun.
Mint is essential in Lebanese cuisine. Mint is present in almost every dish. Now, if you buy it from a supermarket in a little bottle, you are throwing your money away. Inodore, incolore, et sans saveur. (no taste, color or smell) You need to have fresh mint that you dry yourself or Lebanese dried mint. I bought a large bag recently at the middle-eastern store, imported from Lebanon. I was curious. Upon opening it, a whiff of mint escaped and I found myself back home.
I love Lebanese cuisine because it is a cuisine that respects the riches of nature above all. It glorifies it. Where else can you find a cuisine that uses mint and parsley and cilantro and garlic with such profusion? And, what could be healthier?
This chai be-na’na is a signal that the day is unwinding and it is time to recap and reflect. Make a big pot of it and the soothing fragrance of na’na will wrap you up in contentment and serenity. Then you can praise God for your blessings.
INGREDIENTS: Quantity given is for one serving and can be multiplied ad infinitum.
1 generous cup dried or fresh mint leaves
Sugar to taste (optional)
Boil one cup of water. Seep the leaves for a few minutes in the boiling water. Drink hot or at room temperature with a bit of sugar or honey if you wish.
I received an award today from Sophie from www.sophiesfoodiefiles.blogspot.com.
I am so touched and honored! Shukran Sophie!
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