The cooking traveler: Lebanon


Who says that we can only be in one place at a time? Feeling the need to find a comfort zone in a foreign country, student Ilaria Corti, from Italy, talks about origins and traditions with other international students. All of this over a nice meal from their home country. This time, she 'visits' Lebanon with her friend Ryyan.

Some months ago, an Italian friend spent a research period in Lebanon. She came home with a lot of new experience after living in a refugee camp on the border with Syria for three months, including the sound of the bombs dropped just a few kilometers from where she was settled. She also brought back a lot of stories about Lebanese food, such as the incredible amount of sugar the Lebanese put in their tea, or the delicious and huge dinners she used to have almost every day.

Plus, she gave me a tool to fry falafel, all in the same shape. I couldn’t wait to use it for one of my blogs. Surprisingly, a few weeks later, a new colleague named Ryyan was hired in my lab, directly from Beirut. The first day I met him, he immediately discouraged me to make falafel because he is not a fan, but we made up for it soon. I don’t know stereotypes about Lebanese people but if even I did, Ryyan would not fit. He seemed very European. I tried to convince him to talk about Lebanese culture, but I got to know that he loves Britney Spears, he got married to himself a few years ago in an official ceremony, and he went to American schools, so he has been exposed to a very international environment for a long time.


His way of cooking, however, is still very Lebanese and from home he carried an essential mix of spices that are impossible to find anywhere else. One of the main ingredients though is also common in the Netherlands: cinnamon. The dish we cooked together is called Kafta w Battata and I learnt that you can use spaghetti to help you cook a delicious rice. It seems unusual right? Go on with the recipe and you will see!

Here is the recipe for 5 people:


Buon appetito!

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