A “Culturally Fresh” Lebanon

 

Go Eat Give had the pleasure of welcoming a new group of attendees to Destination Lebanon at Nicola’s Restaurant last week!  The Greening Youth Foundation, a non-profit that works with underserved and underrepresented children to create overall healthy communities, attended the event bringing 15 students from Grady High School in Atlanta. And, this will not be the only time that Go Eat Give will host the Greening Youth Foundation. We are excited to announce that Go Eat Give has decided to partner with the Greening Youth Foundation to create a new program entitled “Culturally Fresh”. The aim of the program is to help raise awareness of international cultural and environment issues among the youth in the southern United States.

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The night started off with appetizers – hummus and baba ganoush, and a Q&A session with Lebanese born Nicola, who was an educator himself before he opened his restaurant about 31 years ago.  The students were full of enthusiasm and asked him lots of questions about his life growing up in Lebanon and immigrating to the United States. In addition, they had to complete a treasure hunt assignment on Lebanon. The assignment included questions about the typical Lebanese diet, interesting facts, and history of Lebanon.

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The second course included stuffed grape leaves, fried artichoke hearts, traditional fattoush salad, tabbouleh, and kibbee, which were all delicious. Later, the main dishes served were kafta with Lebanese rice, chicken a la beef, and chicken with artichoke hearts.  Dinner was especially exciting since most of the students from Grady High had never tried Lebanese food before!

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The bunch also had a unique opportunity to hear from Mr. Hrair Balian, Director of the Conflict Resolution Program at The Carter Center and adjunct professor at Emory Law.  He is also Lebanese born, specializes in Middle East conflicts, and speaks English, French, and Armenian.  Hrair discussed the culture of Lebanon, including how it evolved through time due to the influence of other countries and how this evolution has created the rich diversity of Lebanon’s population.

After the speaker and discussion, we were able to taste baklava for dessert (my personal favorite!).  Baklava is a rich and sweet pasty made of thin layers of filo dough and filled with nuts and honey.

Lastly, the students got a lesson in Dabke dancing from Nicola.  Typically there is a dabke leader, and the group joins hands together and stomps to the beat.  We had a blast, and theentire crowd at the restaurant got together for a line dance around the room.

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We are very excited about the future of Culturally Fresh and truly enjoyed the students joining in on the food, friends, and fun.

9 Places to Visit in Lebanon

Lebanon is a beautiful country in the Middle East, bursting with history, great food, and great culture.  It being a classic traveler’s destination, how can you decide where to go and what to see?  Since planning a trip can be quite the task, Go Eat Give has named the nine must see cities in Lebanon for your touring pleasure:

1. Beirut

This capital city of Lebanon is nicknamed “The Paris of the Middle East,” and is bustling with things to do. Along with great shopping and beautiful scenery, Beirut has a rich cultural history to explore. There are many museums and sacred religious sites there, such as the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Saint George, the National Museum of Beirut, and the Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque.

Beirut

2. Baalbek

Baalbek is located on the western end of Lebanon and is home to some of the most well preserved Roman ruins known to mankind.   The city dates back over 9,000 years and was previously known by the name of “Heliopolis,” or The City of the Sun, during the period of the Roman rule. Jupiter, Venus, and Bacchus are all believed to have been worshipped at the Baalbek temples.

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3. Jeita Grotto

Located in the center of the Nahr al-Kalb valley in Jeita, Lebanon, the Jeita Grotto is an amazing sight. The interconnected limestone caves, which can only be accessed by boat, span around nine kilometers in length. To make the grotto even more intriguing—it was a finalist to become one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.

Lebanese journalists and photographers tour the Jeita Grotto by boat during a media day to campaign for the selection of the Jeitta Grotto as one of the seven natural wonders of the world

4. Sidon

This is a Lebanese town that is filled with old history and remarkable sight seeing.   Located on the western coast of the country, it was one of the most important Phonecian cities and is now known as an active fishing town. Sidon is home to the largest Lebanese flag and also the Old Souk, a famous marketplace.

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5. Tyre

Tyre is another city in Lebanon that contains very interesting ruins and historic sites. One main attraction here is the Roman Hippodrome—an ancient stadium for chariot and horse racing! The Tyre Coast Nature Reserve is also the largest sandy beach in the country.

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6. Beit ed-Dine

Beit ed-Dine is a town famous for its’ magnificent Beiteddine Palace (shown below). This one-of-a-kind palace was built in 1788 and hosts the annual Beiteddine Festival and Beiteddine Palace Museum. Interestingly enough, after Lebanon’s independence in 1943 the palace was officially renamed the “People’s Palace” since it had been created by the people’s hard work and will.

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7. Faraya

Lebanon is known for it’s interesting climate, and this town is the perfect example why. Above this village lies the Mzaar Resort, which is a ski resort. The resort is only about 20 miles away from Beirut, meaning you could experience warm weather and winter all in the same day!

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8. The Cedars of God

Cedar trees are sacred and known to have covered Mount Lebanon in the past, but The Cedars of God is one of the last forests left in the country. This was caused by persistent deforestation by Lebanon’s ancestors, such as for shipbuilding and construction. The snowy area has great hiking and beautiful views.

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 11.28.24 PM9. Deir el-Qamar

The name of this Lebanese village can be translated from Arabic into the “Monastery of the Moon.” It’s home to many important religious sites such as Saydet El Talle and the Mount of the Cross. This village is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Destination Lebanon at Nicola’s

Last week we celebrated Destination Lebanon at Nicola’s restaurant in Atlanta. Everyone who attended this event had a fabulous time, mostly attributed to Nicola H. Ayoub, the owner of Nicola’s who is always smiling and trying to entertain a crowd. It is hard to look at Nicola and not to smile yourself. Continue reading “Destination Lebanon at Nicola’s”