This morning, Raymond Hanna, a NoGarlicNoOnions reader and supporter sent me a story that put a smile on my face. Yes, out of only 5 cities around the world, Zahle, our local Lebanese Zahle is part of the UNESCO cities of Gastronomy. With that, UNESCO also appoints members to be part of the City of Literature, Cinema, Music, Craft and Folk arts, Design and Media Arts. Now is the chance to all villages of Lebanon to be part of this list.
A network of creative cities, working together towards a common mission for cultural diversity and sustainable urban development.
Member cities are recognised as:
- “Creative hubs” that promote socio-economic and cultural development in both the developed and the developing world through creative industries
- “Socio-cultural clusters” connecting socio-culturally diverse communities to create a healthy urban environment.
The Network aims at developing international cooperation among cities and encouraging them to drive joint development partnerships in line with UNESCO’s global priorities of “culture and development” and “sustainable development”.
Once a city is appointed to the Network, it can share experiences and create new opportunities with other cities on a global platform, notably for activities based on the notions of creative economy and creative tourism.
Zahle is in the heart of the country at an equal distance between the north, the south, the east and the west, and therefore, it enjoys a strategic location in fertile land. It is built in an inlet of the mountain, on a steep ascent, surrounded with vineyards.
The city’s culture has long revolved around its signature crop, the grape, and its products, wine and arak. Together with the town's gorgeous natural settings, it might have provided with inspiration many of the fifty poets and writers who were born Zahle over the past century, leading to its reputation as “the City of Wine and Poetry”. A graceful personification of this nickname stands at the town's entrance: a statue of Erato, the Muse of love poetry, holding a bunch of grapes.
Gastronomy is one of the elements incorporated in a new concept of cultural heritage driven by growing trends of a well-being lifestyle, authenticity, environmental protection and the need to have a high-quality experience. Tourists that flock to Zahle have a strong desire for foods that emphasis the heritage and culture of the city stimulating the preservation of traditional forms of agriculture and cultural heritage. In addition to vineyards, cherry, pomegranate, plum and mulberry orchards dot the town's upper hillsides, while potatoes and leafy vegetables are cultivated in the plain. Livestock is also an important resource, with trout fisheries on the upper course of the Berdawni river and poultry farms on the surrounding hills. Gastronomy, as a tourist resource, generates rural development by increasing rural revenue sources, improves income levels and employment of local labour.