March 22, 2012

Why Water Matters in our Food?

     Sudanese men pull drinking water from a well in Shendi, Sudan. Lack of
                       drinking water remains to be problematic in most homes in Shendi.(Associated Press)
More pictures about World Water Day   from Boston:
  • The World Water DayThe World Water Day in 2012 is intended to draw the international attention on the relationships between water & food security. “Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life” and water is one of the fundamental input factor to the food production."

  • All You Eat Video  is a promo by  UN for World Water Day 2012  and launched by the Food and Agriculture organization (FAO)  and check this animation as well.
  • This is another effective video by UNICEF: 2 lives, 2 miles apart series // Water

March 20, 2012

HORECA :A Feast for the Senses

Horeca is the region's largest trade show for both the hospitality and food and beverage service industry. This is the 19th edition for HORECA.
 Date: Tuesday to Friday ( March 20-March 23)
Where: Biel, Beirut, Lebanon
What: More than 350 companies from Bahrain, Egypt, France, Iran, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, KSA, Lebanon, Poland, Sri Lanka,  Sweden, Syria, Thailand, Turkey and the UAE will participate in more
than 10 daily events.
Find the Full program here.

I will be attending Horeca 2012 ( As Al-Wazir invited me)  to check the latest news of the Food and Beverage industry in Lebanon and the region. Besides the companies' exhibting their products, there will alot of live shows, symposiums and contests ( Check the events  below). I will also be interviewing owners of Lebanese food industrialists to see their  future expectations, their fears and their innovations!
I think it is interesting that this show is taking place just recently after the scandals of selling expired food in the lebanese markets. So what will these exhibitors have to prove to the Lebanese? Let us wait and see these few days!

March 18, 2012

Matteh, A Healthy Traditional Drink

Throw away your energy drinks! Matteh is much better! 

In winter, our house was like a walk-in industrial freezer. So we had to keep ourselves warm with a heater, and surely with food and drink.
Cocoa milk, hot custard, rice and milk ( riz bi haleeb) were always there to keep us warm and give us energy. Not to mention the whole set of hot drinks, green tea, black tea, zhourat ( i.e flower mix ), rosemary tea, ..and finally Yerba Mate.
Yerba mate was our afternoon tradition, sipping it while eating a chocolate bar aside!
Even during Ramadan, mom made it custom for us after we break our fast to drink matteh ( the lebanese pronunciation). Drinking quinched our thirst, rehydrated our bodies, gave us energy and eased digestion!
Below will be the scientific proofs for all what we felt after drinking it.


Yerba mate has indeed an exquisite history. It is not Lebanese. It is originally a South American drink:
  • The Guarani peoples of South America were the earliest to harvest and drink yerba mate.  
  • They considered the yerba tree a gift of the gods and they called it the "drink of the gods".  
  • Yerba Mates was part of their rituals and as used as a currency of exchange with the Incas and the Charruas. 
  •  Every part of the preparation and drinking of yerba mate is in fact a ceremony or ritual.
  • When the Spanish conquistadors came to Argentina early in the 16 th century and found the indigenous people drinking yerba mate, they tried the tea, liked it, and learned how to brew the tea.
  • This created a demand for the tea all over Europe and by the 1600s the Jesuits were harvesting and cultivating it on yerba mate plantations. It was called the "Tea of Jesuits".

Today it is being cultivated on plantations in parts of Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, and Paraguay. Many attempts have been made to cultivate the herb in similar areas on other continents, but outstandingly they have all failed.
The custom of yerba mate from processing to consumption has basically remained unchanged from early times.
The huge Lebanese diaspora that reside all over the world and mostly in South America, brought this drink and habit to Lebanon when they came back.
Drinking matteh or yerba mate in Lebanon is mostly common among those who reside in the mountains.

Nutritional Content:

March 14, 2012

Anorexia Nervosa

I love food and hate exercise. I don’t have time to work out… I don’t want to be on the cover of Playboy or Vogue. I want to be on the cover of Rolling Stone or Q. I’m not a trend-setter… I’m a singer… I’d rather weigh a ton and make an amazing album then look like Nicole Richie and do a shit album. My aim in life is never to be skinny.”
-Adele Adkins

Realisticaly, woman should care about their bodies in terms of keeping themselves healthy but not starving themselves so that they can fit the “prefect-skinny” image created by media, which may or may not make them look more beautiful. Adele's interview with the Rolling Stones magazine in April 2011 might be one of the most influential quotes I have came across about the image created by media.

 For this, I interviewed Dr. Lama Mattar, who did her PhD in human nutrition in University Pierre Marie Curie to explain further this subject from the scientific point of view. Mattar, who is specialized in eating disorders, lists the types of eating disorders as anorexia nervosa (AN), bulimia nervosa, and eating disorders not otherwise specified (EDNOS).

March 13, 2012

A Light Advice from a Licensed Dietitian

Popular diets don’t necessarily mean healthy or balanced. That’s the case of most diets that have emerged in the last three decades such Atkins, Dukan, Zone and the south beach diet.
The American Academy of Family Physicians warns that these fad diets don’t typically result in long-term weight loss and even some can be dangerous to health such as the cabbage soup diet, Hollywood diet, apple cider vinegar diet, and Acai berry diet ( promoted by Oprah Winfrey).

How can one know how these diets are fad? Most of these diets promise a quick fix or are based on a simple study or have claims that sound too good to be true. They even eliminate one of the five essential food groups, promote a certain product or emphasize a "popular" lifestyle.

I asked Nour Hammami, a Licensed dietitian in the Lebanese ministry of Public health and currently pursuing her Master in Nutrition, to give students some advice about the popular low carbohydrate (carb) -high protein diets.

March 11, 2012

Rotten Meat and Rotten Laws!

Police Arresting 3 for rotten meat? ( Read more from Daily Star)
 Stunning news?
 Not really! In a country where chaos is the norm, I wasn’t surprised when I heard the news of spoiled meat. Not surprised, but sad. Why this negligence? Why this ignorance? And mostly why this lack of truthfulness?
Selling food after their expiry date is becoming almost a legal thing to do.
Although we do have a consumer protection that belongs to the ministry of economy and who is responsible in inspecting food suppliers, supermarkets and restaurants, it is still lagging behind. The inspectors are either not enough, or not doing their jobs properly, or ( I am not implying this on all of them), they are being bribed to hide the truth.

The head of Consumers Lebanon said to Zawya:"That these recent seizures of spoiled food by the Consumer Protection Office are merely a media stunt that only scratches the surface of the problems of food safety in the country!"

But the director-general of the Economy Ministry, Fouad Flaifel, denied that the recent confiscations were a media stunt, and said they were part of the daily work of the office.

I walked around Beirut in the weekend to check whether this news affected the public. It seems it didn’t. All restaurants were packed with cravers for food, Hamra was full, Downtown and Zaitona Bay.
( I also started a question on my facebook page : Pearl's Powder)
Trusting the place where we eat is very crucial. I personally prefer to eat my own food even if a restaurant has a good reputation.

Lists of these places have been circulated around the net, LBC group even posted them. Monetary fines were implemented on the owners but sadly, some were reduced as if the citizen’s health and life is not taken into consideration!  It seems we, humans are becoming a cheap item nowadays and no one cares if we get poisoned or died the next day.

Unless there is a death case, juridical system in Lebanon states that the courts usually do not sentence anyone to prison. And actually there was a death issue happened in summer(check previous post), and no one was blamed. There is always some kind of bribery or a political “help” that will save the restaurant or food supplier.

The food and beverage industry is a great source of income for the Lebanese and is a great attraction for tourism. Can Lebanon afford an economic loss because of this damaging reputation? Can’t laws merely be amended properly?
Why do politicians have to protect one illegitimate person on the sake of the whole population? 
It is the time for the Lebanese to stop pretending that nothing will happen to them when they eat spoiled food. Indeed, it is the time for them to become aware and demand clean food for the sake of their health and their economy before it is too late.

See also: My letter to the Lebanese Syndicate of Restaurants

March 9, 2012

Sea Food Night!

Featured and written by Strawberry Blu and Pearl's Powder
Shrimps Ratatouille! 
After the revamping of the luxurious Phoenicia Hotel Beirut’s Mosaic restaurant, the restaurant is aiming to take us on a voyage to a new country to visit the folklore, traditions, costumes and mostly taste the exquisite cuisine.
The week I and Cynthia ( from Strawberry Blu) visited was the French cuisine promotion with the 60’s Photo exhibition at Mosaic.

March 8, 2012

International Women's day

I was featured on Women's day event done by Phoenicia Hotel Lebanon!

The social media campaign done by the hotel, was: Be inspired this women's day by motivational quotes from women to other women ... "Inspiring the future"
They posted an album and this is my inspirational quote I submitted: