An Extended Beirut Lunch with Ernesto Chahoud
I live at the border end of Beirut by the Beirut river in the Armenian quarter. The river runs from the East to West, then curves North, separating the city of Beirut from its eastern suburbs. Bourj Hammoud is an Armenian ghetto and street food heaven. According to popular legend, St. George slayed the dragon in a spot near the mouth of the river. Unfortunately, Beirut River is no longer the full, flowing water source, lined with trees along its banks as it was. Now it's merely a trickle of water through a big space of pollution and dirt, that ends with the city's enormous slaughter house.
In Beirut we slaughter animals every other day but Sunday has special meaning in Lebanon, since it is the capital for Christians in the Middle East. Sunday has been the official day of rest since forever, a four hour long meal feasting on Kibbeh, variety of lamb dishes unique to Lebanon, including raw lamb liver and drinking arak — national Lebanese alcohol — till the sun goes down.
Kibbeh Nayeh, the Lebanese raw lamb dish, has a very special way of preparation. Super fresh meat, slaughtered on the same day with zero fat. You mix it with bulgar wheat and then season with salt, pepper and marjoram. To end, you add whole nuts and olive oil. We also had raw lamb fillet simply cut into small pieces, eaten with salt, black pepper, chili powder, marjoram and cumin.
Apo is the Armenian Butcher of the hood who inherited his profession from his father and Abou Yussef is the vegetable shop of the hood, an independent farmer who gets his vegetables daily. Lebanese food is very much different from Arab food. Lebanese food is more influenced by Turkish and Greek cuisine. It is more of a Mediterranean philosophy, rather than a desert philosophy.
DJ and co-founder of the Beirut Groove Collective serves and soundtracks Kibbeh Nayeh with photographer Juana Akceb
The Kibbeh Nayeh film features Shish Kebab by Ihsan Al-Munzer from the Shik Shak Shok compilation of Lebanese 70s and 80s psychedelic disco for belly dance and late 60s rock from Lebanon’s The Sea-Ders. One of the Middle East’s foremost crate diggers and DJs of rare soul, funk and disco, Ernesto is co-founder of the Beirut Groove Collective, record store owner and music and food philosopher. Juana Akceb is a photographer and multi-media artist, born in Paris, living and working in Beirut, also known as Margot Becka.
EGGS is our film series about food and eating.