3 (Mon) December 2018
Kibbeh Nayeh (WHAT)
at Mövenpick Hotel & Resort (WHERE)
with meeting participants
Mission to Lebanon, Day 3 (see previously 9.331 Hummus!).
In Beirut. Here to attend a Meeting of the Regional Parliamentary Working Group on Universal Health Coverage in the Eastern Mediterranean Region – Monday to Tuesday. Follow-up to the meeting in Jordan a few months back (see most recently 9.268 Malabar Grouper). As focal point for the Asia-Pacific Parliamentarian Forum on Global Health (APPFGH) (see most recently 9.231 Boodle Fight), I’m here to help the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office – which covers North Africa and the Middle East – set up their own forum, aimed for launch sometime in mid-2019.
Kibbeh Nayeh is a Lebanese lamb dish. Raw lamb, minced and mixed with onions, herbs, spices, and bulgar wheat.
I didn’t like it. Just felt weird, eating raw lamb.
To quote myself from yesterday: “The food was amazing. Every single dish was pristinely fresh, perfectly executed.” For lunch today with the meeting participants, the spread was all that and then some. I can’t recall in recent memory wishing I had more room to continue eating. Best conference lunch ever: 4.0, except for the kibbeh nayeh.
During lunch, I was fortunate to be seated next to a most honorable and learned parliamentarian from Syria, who seemed happy to chat about the food with me. She explained that this region, comprising modern-day Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Israel, Palestine, and parts of Turkey, is generally referred to by those from the region as Bilad al-Sham (“Land of the North”). They take immense pride in their cuisine, which includes such staples as tabouleh, fatoush, hummus, babaganoush, labneh, falafel, mansaf, kebab, shawarma, etc. Also called Levantine cuisine in the West, often categorized as a subset of Mediterranean and/or Middle Eastern and/or Arabic cuisine – although my lunch companion was quick and adamant to point out that the cuisine of Bilad al-Sham stands apart. I’m thinking it’s how the cuisines of Korea, Japan, China, Thailand, Vietnam, and other Asian countries are each distinct to those of us from Asia, though everyone may find them kinda similar. Out of respect, I will try to reclassify certain tags in GMTD to be more accurate, as far as my understanding goes.