Beautiful AKKAR: The Land, The Farmers, The Food, The Great Experience

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Beautiful AKKAR: The Land, The Farmers, The Food, The Great Experience

Today is Monday, we started off the week in Akkar Everyday passes and someone else passes away, our heart aches even more Our condolences goes to damaged and destroyed houses. I want to remind you of the tradgedy that hit Beirut Lebanon is stil in need of you, Beirut has faced the damage but Lebanon remains Come to Lebanon and have a tour! We are in Akkar today, a region that has been forgotten and not everyone visits We are going to start the week here, stay with us for Monday and Tuesday! Our village is small in size, yet beautiful Whoever comes to pay a visit, enjoys his time! You’re my sweet heart! My name is Nazira Mahfouz Nazira Antoun Mahfouz I am going to prepare one Samne w Sekkar (Ghee with Sugar). Ya habibi!! Our village is called Kfar Noun It’s an old village, but thankfully there are more amenities and citizens Oil and ghee, salt and sugar, yeast powdered milk and water! 7 ingredients! A biscuit from one side, and cake from the other You don’t even feel the sugar, it only gives it color. The thyme and oil are perfectly balanced, the dough was put to rest perfectly, and it absorbed the right amount of oil The dough tastes great! God bless you God give you life The moment you get to the village, the black rocks catch your sight! It’s like you’re in a volcanic mountain Menjez and Kfar Noun, they are known for their black basalt rocks, and almost all the walls are made up of them They’re called Dolman there are more than 80 or 85 ones of them, they used to be huge graves There are lots of history and traditions in Lebanon, more than we know off! There are more than just Tripoli, Tyre and Saida! In each corner of this sacred land, there’s something you can discover! We are in Menjez, in Akkar 3 hours away from Beirut, it’s a calm region with amazing weather! It’s greenery is unexplainable! We got to this touristic point, you’ll definitely find on Google Maps The graves are called Dolman Let’s keep going! Do I give it a try? Okay! Yalla! Syria and Lebanon What seperates us is this wonderful river Mark we’re here again! When people see us together they think of agriculture! What’s our plan for those two days? Akkar is a forgotten region but it’s one of the most beautiful places in Lebanon

Akkar is super special, we are going to shed the light on archelogical aspects and ruins! We are going to show the people how rich the planting is here, and it’s important to mention the bidiversity We are going to visit two foresrts, but we have several stops Since you’re here, we will definitely add food into the program. Yes, some manakish! Good morning Bishop, what’s this wonderful monastery!! It’s beautiful. Greetings from Menjez, and in the monastery of Saidet Al Qalaa! This monastery is a shrine it has been here ever since 1927 Back then it was a hill and it was called “Al 3adra” (The Virgin) Then things evolved till 2011 and we came back here to rebuild and build a technical institute There was a school anyways here with the Jesuit monks Why is it called fortress? Who used to be here? There was a fortress behind the monastery All of the rocks of the church are from the fortress I felt like I am in France! The blue color, the black stones This church is unconventional! I felt like I want to go back to the University days, I want to be the student who lives in this calm atmosphere, the wind in mid August, the flowers most importantly, there are 220 students that are in a technical school that’s free of tuition Where is all that? In Akkar, at the very Northern part of it next to Syria! We are in the agricultural lands, that belong to Dar Sayydet Al Qalaa We start there with pomegranate, avocados, then the olives and then the oranges Then we have the Persimmon I felt that I am in a movie, watching “Saving Private Ryan”! Yes exactly Pit, hill, and trenches! Just like a warzone This technique is called; raised bed technique Avocados don’t grow in places where the soil absorbs all the water If this had to happened, the roots of the avocado tree would cause asphyxiation or Phytophthora a fungus disease In that way we lift the land, in that way water wouldn’t soak into the roots On the left and right there are cypress trees This blocks the strong wind from hitting the trees with time It helps keep the trees strong and the flowers maintained A black pomegranate? Do you play billiard? What do they call it? 8 ball. Yes that’s it! For real? I have never seen this! Not even in pictures All of these are pomegranate trees, they’re still small it’s not their season. Only this tree is black! Come here sweet heart. Look at how I am watering! God bless you, come see! The best setting, a cigarette and watering with a calm atmosphere Bravo! That’s right He will water, and you come have a conversation with me Explain to me things concerning the monastery for 5 minutes only! Hold on, calm down just wait! Oh don’t film me! Tell me whatever you want. He is the doctor of planting, so if the plant is sick he knows how to treat it

Leave me be, don’t tell me about check ups or treatments. The agriculturer doesn’t know anything about planting (sarcastically) You can’t depend on him I will cry You’re crazy and I too Right here we have Artimius Challita a temple Artimius Challita came 363 A.C He broke the temple, and built a church right here He has another church but it’s underground My son is in Paris, studying medicine He was studying and he had an exam the next day at 2 AM he fell off the 5th floor!! I received a call saying that my son died! When they told me he passed away His father who passed away asked who would built Saint Challita? There’s no water, no electricity… nothing! I asked Saint Challita to revive my son and keep him for 10 years and I would worship him to death, why’d I ask for 10 years? I really don’t know I received a call at sunrise that he is fine and he is breathing I told the villagers that I want to rebuild this monastery They all helped me dig it up! I dug up all the ruins and the stones from under the ground I began then and I didn’t allow anyone to build it up, it was my work I got the experts and winches from the port in Beirut to help me build it up right. They stayed for 4 years here Everyday I used to build 2 to 3 stones, in winter I’d gather all the stones up and in the summer I built it After 10 years, he passed away! He was 33 years old, just like Jesus Christ He died in the pains of Jesus On Good Friday, his funeral stretched from Saydet Libnan, then Al Qbayat and he got burried here I have been here ever since 1995, I haven’t left this monastery! I will climb up then, Oh God how funny you are Bonjour Father (Bishop)!! How are you? No one awaits such amazing scenary and region! It’s in Qoubaiyat and around 2 hours away from Beirut Where are we now? We are still on the way, especially if there was God’s variety of creation! There are studies about the birds in Lebanon, the butterflies in Lebanon and the world This is what it is basically When the war began in 1975, the stairs of a school in Tripoli got bombed, I was there back then, I saw a dove pigeon that’s mummified between the backfill I asked who did it, turned out it was Père Jean Tomb, and his brother was the one I asked! Père François Tomb! May they rest in peace! I told him I want to learn how to mummify, he asked me to go get a bird for him to teach me I took a taxi from Tripoli, I came here to Menjez I hunted 3 birds This museum is opened for everyone? Yes. All year long!

They are all found in Lebanon? 99% of them I concentrated on what we have here, because all the books talk about foreign animals Some foreigner comes and does a study The butterflies are on a side and the animals on the other, why are the butterflies this important? Père François did them so I am taking care of them since they are very detailed This butterfly has a combra’s head Look at it. It lives for a day only It comes out of the cocoon just like that. This big! The butterfly doesn’t change it’s size at all Since it starts off as an egg then a caterpillar then a cocoon then into a butterfly! We are on the top This is Lebanon We are on the top, we have the borders from both sides Greetings Anthony, hello everyone! I am Marwan Joseph Awad I am a priest (Khoury Seraphin) , and I am a farmer I have green houses for flowers Then the idea of Gum trees (Eucalyptus) started I planted many Eucalyptus You worked on ideas for weddings and events You did flowers and Eucalyptus for weddings But this year was so bad for such events (due to COVID-19) But we are still going strong, we still believe and have faith! Your smile is amazing! Let’s feel it, and tell me more about how much it needs work and watering It loves water in summer and hates water in winter You need to take good care of it, and watch out for the watering. It needs to be cleaned all the time.., But what’s nice is that it doesn’t need to be chemically sprayed Whenever you cut, it grows more It’s a generous plant. Can be used for medicinal reasons, for hygeine reasons and detergents, also perfumes! It’s this important Mark, today was amazing. We are ending it with fresh figs! Can we recall what we did today? We went to Teta (grandma) early in the morning. How a wonderful grandma! I love her soul and wonderful laugh I hope her grandchildren learn that from her Then we went to Der Saydet Al Qalaa (monastery)> We saw the agriculture there and the stones and rocks, I felt that I want to leave my entire world and move there for 3 days We then went to Mar Challita (Saint), we saw a very impressive women. That’s true How she built the Monastery alone You should watch the live on YouTube to see how things went We filmed the coffee shop Then we went to the museum, the one which had birds and butterflies We had a wonderful Falafel sandwich! We were so hungry! We forgot to film it out of hunger! Then we ended our day at the Priest! Thank you priest! Thanks for the figs and the flowers! A person who takes care of his brother and his country He is a pride for the country I hope you always have this energy, and God bless your work! People like you are doing the impossible to keep Lebanon’s picture clean, and this is the true Lebanon!

We finished our program for the day, we want to thank the priest again for having us here We are going to sleep here today… next to the church There’s a small surprise, we are going to make Kebbeh! With the women who did Manakish today morning I am back with excitement! I had manakish today, now it’s Kebbeh time What are we going to have for dinner? What are you making? I am making Kebbeh! And several other things! Shou Habibi? Yes film me! Today we saw more than 12 type of grapes, now we need to pick them! I am going to imitate red riding hood, and I have the cutter We are going to see what type of grapes can we get along? I am not sure if they’re ready to be plugged We will taste and see! Let’s go yalla This one Very sweet! I took this The first variety, let’s go somewhere else Let’s taste This is super sour and the skin is thick! I don’t want it It’s color and size looks interesting It tastes well! I took it! Very juicy, full of water! I got 4, that’s enough. I have to leave some for the neighbors Why did you place them upwards? Why don’t you place them on their bottom? No, they’d smush down all together! They need to be rounded First place it upwards then on it’s back Yes start off with it’s sides then onto the back. I have to be an expert! This is the Kebbeh just like that How good it is! It’s filled! With Labne all the way! It’s so good! He’s always eating, and he doesn’t invite us! Please try it! And we cut it in half I want to tell you that the Kebbeh works with Labne not Laban (yogurt) I have two Kebbeh to finish! See you tomorrow! Good morning! We slept in Akkar We are in Menjez the village You will see the amount of cactus! In english they call it prikly pears, or white pears… several names Cactus pears? Cactus pears are very healthy We have to ask doctors who know better, but it’s very good for humans to have! “Patience” (Saber) came from the way it’s a plant that lives in the desert! You don’t have to water it!

It stretches it’s roots in a very long way In order to get water, it needs patience to live “Saber” needs patience (saber) in order to live! Dr. Anthony, we have grass on the land they’re all from the nature It has glue that we call “Tayyoun” Since I am far from a Tayyoun, I can cut any tree branch We place the cactus pear on the floor we place them this way Look at how much thorns there are, after spreading this plant over them they start going away The thorns are now on the floor What does the water do? Just clears out any other remaining thorn You can peel it now! Yes! It’s a super fast process We place them somewhere for them to be clean We need to go a bit deep since the thorn might be on the outer layers Most of the people who peel it, only peel the first layer We need to deepen the cutting, just for safety The first cactus pear This is for you Dr. Anthony It has Lots of seeds, half seeds and half fruit This is for Kareem You shouldn’t eat it with your teeth, rather with your tongue You’ll feel the seeds, so put it on the tongue and touching the upper mouth area It melts down and the seeds go down easily with the sweetness all together I’ll give you the second one I didn’t taste it well, I need another one It’s a different color It’s so good! I will give you another red one Whenever I pass by Akkar, I have to stop at “Tannour Andket”. I called it like that on Google Maps, however it doesn’t really have a name Sitting here is super relaxing, the cold breeze and the calm atmosphere are wonderful In the middle of nature, you’d come here to fill up oxygen and have great food Everything here is done by hand, no props not even a pillow for the tannour! They work with effort For the first time today they did Jebne (cheese) with zaatar (thyme) from the outer part You can ask for Manouchet Anthony! Their dough is unbelievably good, the thyme and cheese are amazing! They’re roasted from the sides and it’s just so good! It’s the second one! I need to confess… Get down and give me 10 push ups! I’m Samir Youssef Alzir, the princple of “Al Ta3aouneye Al Zira3iyeh” ( Agricultural Cooperative) in Shadra We are now in the olive press. It’s the factory of oil A licensed oil press by the ministry of industry A factory for food I have known you for 2 to 3 years I remember that you’re oil were super good! We have a factory that makes extra virgin olive oil We only work on making extra virgin olive oil All of the oil we sell in the name of the factory is extra virgin olive oil

It starts off here Here the olives get washed and the vacuum removes the leaves Goes through a spiral while being washed, here we have water pumps It pours on the grinder It gets grinded without water? This grinder is called Maulinex Which means when it grindes the olives, it doesn’t increase it’s heat so we say it chops Afterwards, We have the first and the second fracturer It all happens within 40 minutes then it pumps to something called a freezer It does a mechanical job in which is mixes It seperates the oil from the solid remainings Here we collect the remainings, we produce it and we distribute it We don’t keep anything Our factory is eco-friendly Whoever likes to call us our phone number is 03458185 You have been guiding me for two days, it’s me turn now I learned a lot. Today I will show you how fresh pasta is made Ready? Ready! We will head to Tony’s now, you will have a wonderful lunch Can I add something more? Yeah sure go ahead. Have you seen this? How do you see those?! Look at this I asked you this before, do you have an encyclopaedia in your mind? I really don’t know It’s just like when I walk in a street food market, I start naming the food I see He walks in nature and he finds things out It’s called Baleghsoun, it grows and gives a blue flower But when it grows flat, it has dander… you can eat it! We will take it with us and you’ll see We will do a “Tanboura”, then we dip it and we fry it. I saw another one! I will climb to get it Unconventional, in a place that’s really unconventional! It’s in a valley between mountains, it’s 5 minutes away from Koubaiyat It’s 2 hours or 2 hours and a half away from Beirut The place is called “Tony Zaher”, his social media isn’t that well, but the people can smell and feel how good it is, so they come here! He’s waiting for me today and we will cook fresh pasta together in the kitchen Hello Tony! Hi! How are you, tell us about it all! I am Tony Zaher, but the shop is called Zahhar Tony Which means I bloomed because of your presence! I have been working for 40 years in this industry I came to Koubayat after touring around several places in Lebanon and even abroad! Then I decided that I want to come back to my childhood town Where I used to play and pick apples, so I came back here What you did is insane It is indeed We are going to work on something artisanal, such as pesto pasta (basil) We are going to start. The ingredients are, Semolina, flour, eggs and olive oil, and salt. That’s everything It’s time for the Ravioli, it’s flat but stuffed on the inside,

the machine is developed and the part which the stuffing happens is amazing as well Cubes that are made up of squid ink and calamari from the inside. Perfecto! It’s just like an omelet, does it taste good? Oh he didn’t like it I like it this way I really like it! You didn’t like it?! Hold on Mark, you have two doctorate in agriculture but leave the cooking for us When you want to do Tanboura, eggs are made in order to stick the flour on the Balghasoune You dip it in eggs, what you did here in an omelet It’s good they didn’t produce rancid You dip it so quickly in eggs then onto the flour, so it becomes crunchy on the outside. That’s when it would taste good What you did here is an omelet What’s most important is that it’s al dente pasta! The flavors are great! You can sense the squid’s ink taste, it’s super smooth Pesto everywhere! I have to remind you that the fresh pasta is so good! The texture and taste and length of the pasta is different than the ones in the market It’s all different So you have to be aware of what you’re eating when you come here! It’s so good The view here is mind-blowing, it got a bit cold so I put on a vest I will let you know on what altitude we are on. It’s between Koubayat and then you turn to get to Amouaa Mark will inform us about this forest in a scientifical matter What types of trees does it have? Why is the wind this strong? What types of plants does it have? How rich it is. We are on 1,592 meters above sea We are in August! Can you hear the wind? It’s actually very cold This might be the only forest in Lebanon that has this much conifers. I will explain So we know cedar, pine, cypress trees… they all are conifers They are those huge trees, all around the world there are 720 type of them While the flowers that bloom are 250,000 type Those are the trees that produce a cone shape That’s why we call them conifers. If you look around you, there are wonderful trees. I will try to tell you all about them. How many types do we have here? 7 to 8 type. Out of 720! That’s wonderful For an example, when you go to Arez in Chouf or Tannourin of even in Bcharre, there’s only one type that’s dominant which is the cedar tree Ehden is something else, it has a variety of types! Here, we have an unbelievable variety. You might look at think it’s all cedar You told me we are passing through different levels, and different types Usually in Lebanon we have pine trees on a low altitude, but this is an exception Rather the cedar trees in Lebanon grow starting at 1,000 meters above sea to 2,100 meter Although the Lezebeh, which we have here… grows starting 1,000 meter until it gets to 2,800 meter Do you believe you’re in Lebanon? No!

How beautiful? I was asking you, you told me to call the oak But we are not used to seeing such oak trees In Lebanon we call almost everything oak, Aazer, Maloul, and Afis.. all these are oaks! What combines them or gives them similarity is the oak they produce! The forest is so huge, it has many paths You can spend an entire day here, you can walk and it wouldn’t end I invite everyone to come here and get to discover this forest to enjoy the calmness and the breeze, away from the traffic and noise What a region, two days that are historical! I want to say, Lebanon is yet to be discovered! A region, places… people don’t know off People don’t know the citizens, the regions and places of Lebanon They are not aware of the fact that within all 1,500 villages there are things to be discovered Each village has some gift, the people are wonderful the smile remains on their faces with all the hardships, Akkar is one of those places People say it’s far and close to the borders, but their people are waiting to get to know you. What we discovered those past two days are mindblowing! It’s definetely not the last visit I have been here 4 times and I will come back Agriculture, wonderful people, food, reception, generosity, views and even more A7la Balad Bel 3alam (theb most beautiful country)!!! No matter what happened With our presence, our faith is needed to rebuild it and make it better than it was! What am I going to do now Anthony? Have you ever tried Labne with thyme? Look, you get the labne you add it onto the thyme Most importantly, we need to cut it like that and you have to eat it with happiness! I am trying to imitate him. You did it wrong, he doesn’t use the knife Mark I beg you, don’t bring metals next to the manakish! You grab it and roll it like the Lebanese bread, you dip it in and fill it up. You want me to do that? No way! This is how it’s done Mark!