Why Lebanon is special? 1/2
When foreigners hear about Lebanon, they imagine that we are some retarded people, fusty, using the camels as a meant of transportation, terrorists probably and they tend to belittle us.
As a Lebanese woman, I want to write a bit about Lebanon; probably nowadays you will find most information on Google. But it will never be as accurate as a citizen speaking!
Lebanon is a small country in the Middle East (10,452 km2); we pronounce it “Lubnan” in Arabic and we are a Republic. The capital is “Beirut”.
The name Lebanon originates from the Phoenician root l-b-n, meaning “white”, probably in reference to its snow-capped peaks.
It is bordered by Syria to the north and Israel (Palestine of course) to the south and Mediterranean Sea to the west. It explains why we have millions of immigrants all over the world! We weren’t so lucky with such a location you see!
The Lebanese population is around 5 million but we have around 7 million Lebanese in Brazil only, and thousands in Canada, Australia, Mexico and all over the world.
Yes Lebanon has many flaws and conflicts but Lebanon is not defined by its flaws.
Why Lebanon is special?
We are a small country that struggled and survived many civil wars, foreign occupations, political assassinations, suicide bombs, chaos, but still we love life and we love freedom, we are very well educated and with all modesty very smart.
Lebanon is a Polyglot country. Most Lebanese citizens speak at least 3 languages (many speak additional languages). Lebanese Arabic is the official language but English and French are widely used! Lebanon is Francophone country and an active member is the “Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF)” as well, almost 40% of Lebanese speak French and it’s a mandatory language in most schools.
We use 3 languages while speaking, the most common phrase you will ever hear when a Lebanese greets you: Hi, Kifak, ca va? (Kifak = how are you and ca va = good?) We use it spontaneously and without even thinking.
The working language in Lebanon is “English”. Most reputable companies and institutions use English for written correspondences and sometimes the verbal communications as well. French is restricted to French companies and institutions and banks sometimes, even though it’s a plus in most companies when you apply to a job, and of course many Lebanese brag about speaking it since it’s not an easy language and it’s very classy, beautiful and romantic as well!
The Lebanese Banking Industry is a very advanced sector, we have large number of banks of different sizes and they dominate the financial system of the country and are major providers of credit to individuals and businesses. Banks and other financial institutions in Lebanon fall under the jurisdiction of the Bank of Lebanon (BDL), the country’s central bank, which is the bank regulatory authority. The Banking Secrecy law issued in 1956 was a key aspect in the expansion of this sector. In addition to his numerous achievements, the Governor of the Central Bank of Lebanon, Riad Salameh received an “A” and was ranked among the top governors in the world in 2017.
We have the most delicious food you can ever taste! Whether Lebanese food or International cuisine, we take the recipe and we just master it! Pizza, Pasta, burger, Chinese food, Japanese food, salads…you will taste the most delicious recipes and the best hospitality, luxurious restaurants, high level of professionalism.
Any local would agree: going out for lunch, dinner or drinks on the weekend is an experience in itself.
Of course we were affected by all foreign civilizations that held power through the years especially Ottoman Turks and France but we were innovated and we transformed it to even more delicious and even tastier!
Starting from breakfast “Manooushi” or “Labneh” or wide variety of cheese, local cheese of course, we have many farms mostly at villages, the organic livestock industry has grown substantially through the years and dairy products are essential to every Lebanese. Especially a Lebanese breakfast!
You can either have the traditional Lebanese breakfast: Labneh, many kind of cheese, Eggs, Tomato, Olives,…or a simple Manooushi…or the famous Kunafa! Foul and Fatte! Or a simple “Croissant”.
So which kind of breakfaster are you?
Here in Lebanon is so common to say I want to have “Croissant” as a breakfast…we have the most delicious bakeries and pastries shops or “patisserie” whether you’re French educated or not, you’ll always hear the word “Patisserie”!
Of course when you’re on strict diet, you just forget about Kunafa, Manooushi and even Lebanese bread that is so delicious and so special! The first 2 words that a dietician will say:” no mana2ish, no Kunafa…How cruel is that!
We have the most delicious Shawarma in the whole region, probably the origin is Turkish but you’ll never taste better than the Lebanese Shawarma! Whether meat or chicken or even “Sujuk” it’s heavenly…
The Lebanese shawarma was named “world’s tastiest sandwich” by London-based food network FoodieHub after a local Beirut-based restaurant: Joseph’s Restaurant won the top award among 4,000 nominees across 150 cities.
To not mention: the traditional Lebanese lunch starting with the Mezze or Mezza (or starters) such as Tabbouleh, Fattoush, Hummus, Baba Ghannouj, Wara’ Enab, raw meat variety, Shanklish, to the Barbecue and main dishes! Not to be missed!
The Lebanese food needs one separate blog to be appreciated since I didn’t mention yet the Lebanese Sweets and mostly the Baklava! Pure torture!
After all, Beirut was the only Middle Eastern city to make the 2016 “Best International Cities for Food” list, published by New-York based travel magazine Travel & Leisure.
What do you think so far? Do you have any idea about our Lebanon?
Stay tuned for part 2!
Photo credits: nogarlicnoonions & Beirutfood Instagram accounts and easylebaneserecipes.com.
H.A – February 8th 2019