Trip to Lebanon
From the 16th until the 23rd of January, a working team from BCC Innovation (Basque Culinary Center) made an investigation trip linked to the exploration of the Lebanese gastronomy. This trip was essential to collect ideas and getting to know first-hand the flavours, textures and traditions of this Mediterranean culture.
During the working week, the researchers had the chance to speak with chefs, nutritionists, staff from the Maristes school, as well as to visit markets, homes, restaurants, schools and the university campus. They also could cook with professionals inside the homes of some Lebanese families. This way, the team was able to gather valuable information to understand the local gastronomy and, after, working with the recipes and typical local products.
The team highlighted the hospitality of Lebanese people they met, proud of their rich gastronomy, full of color and really linked to the use of vegetables, legumes and cereals as the pillars of each meal. The global plant-based tendency is, actually, already a tradition in this country and this is a confirmation of how healthy and sustainable this gastronomy us and how it represents the Mediterranean diet.
The wide use of herbs and spices provides all different dishes with a complexity and a flavor that enables a sensation of satiety. This favors the consumption of small portions and also the avoidance of adding an excessive amount of salt, sugar and fat. Likewise, the predominance of the acid flavor in several dishes, because of the lemon juice and the yoghourt, is characteristic from this gastronomy, which turns out to be fresh and which helps using less salt than other Mediterranean cuisines.
Besides, the traditions linked to the preserve of seasonal foods as well as spontaneous fermentations endure in the different regions of a country which, despite its small size in extension, is extremely rich regarding its diversity and gastronomic culture.
The habit of sharing meals and the consideration of the act of eating as something social reflects on the tradition of the mezze, small portions in the centre of the table which are presented in every lunch or dinner for all the diners. Just like tapas in the Spanish gastronomy, these Mediterranean traditions add an extra value to the eating tome, which becomes a cultural and social connection point, and not only a nutritional one.