As published in Cloud961 by Paul Gadalla Let’s face it; if there is one thing that binds this country together, it’s food. From births to birthdays to family gatherings, even just someone stopping by requires food. The restaurant industry in Lebanon is huge and nearly everyone knows someone who’s an owner or partner in a snack or restaurant. And we all have our favorite place to eat, from the new French bistro to the old saj place around the corner. Every day we hear about the latest food trend or best restaurant in town. It was only a matter of time until this crossed over into Lebanon’s ever expanding blogosphere. Food blogs in Lebanon range from bloggers scoping out the freshest fruit in remote villages to which restaurant holds the title for best burger in town to what foods can reduce that waist line. This month I got a chance to ask three of Lebanon’s most popular food blogs, Pearl’s Powder (Loulwa Kalache), No Garlic No Onions (Anthony Rahayel), and Strawberry Blu (Cynthia Abu Jawde) on why they started a food blog, how blogging about food can make an impact, and everything in between.
What got you blogging about food in the first place?It’s a long story – one thing led to another and here I am. I can tell you the story and tell you about the things I have enjoyed eating and wanted to share with others and I can also tell you about the rude waiter who simply got on my nerves while at a restaurant and just wanted to vent. But honestly, it’s a combination of things. I love life, love food and love photography. I am passionate about the details that surround me: wondrous moments I encounter, capture and enjoy sharing. Food is more than something to eat; food is a combination of passionate and colorful ingredients perfectly mixed together to create something unique. Food joins people together, gathers families and reveals a lot about countries and civilizations.
An internal love for food made me want to write about the hundreds of experiences I live every day, creating my own encyclopedia of discoveries as well as enjoy sharing them with other people who share the same passion like me.
Do you think blogging about food can make an impact?Absolutely, especially in a country like ours! Dozens of places open monthly with no proper control, with no proper know-how and most of the time for all the wrong reasons. Lebanese love going out to enjoy some good food with good company. Unfortunately this is not a given. Some places are good, while others are absolutely not. I believe sharing my opinion about places – the good, the bad and the ugly as they say; I am able to shed light on what’s happening, while highlighting the good things that we have. I get hate mail – if I can use that term here, but I choose to publish it so others can see. I decided to share my positive and negative experiences that can make a difference. People need guarantees that I’m trying to provide...
Your favorite social media campaign done by a restaurant?I liked the latest 7elou campaigns between Abdul Rahman Al Hallab and Doueihy followed by a reply by Rafaat EL Hallab. Abdel Rahman Hallab recently opened its doors with an ad plastered on the streets “Sar bi Jounieh, 7elou...” (Sweets are now available in Jounieh), while one of it’s competitors, Doueihy, answers back with another ad saying, “Wsolot m2akhar 3a Jounieh ya 7elou...” (You reached Jounieh late, sweet guy). Rafaat el Hallab then replied saying: “7allayneha 7oubiyan bi Jounieh, Choukran Atir” (It was solved peacefully in Jounieh, thank you sugar syrup).
What’s your favorite dish?I love all kinds of food. I like different things in different places and different times of the day and actually crave for them and make it a point to go enjoy them – burgers, sushi, pasta, eggs benedict... But mainly, I can’t deny my infatuation for good Lebanese home made preparations (yakhnet in Arabic) – Haricot beans, Green peas or mouloukhieh all combined with rice.
How could restaurants and eateries in lebanon better utilize social media?Be truthful, be authentic and be reasonable. Market yourself decently without flooding, be creative and avoid copy pastes. Download the full issue