148m - The Brazil-Lebanon Cultural Center is part of the structure of the Cultural...
Traditional Lebanese Sweets and Booza at old Mar Mitr Corner Store
Al Salam, a small, reputed corner shop Hana Moussa set up in Mar Mitr in 1949, is just below the urbane Achrafieh neighbourhood. Hana named the store after a now-defunct amateur soccer club he was a loyal supporter of. The field was where now the ABC Mall is and when the club played, all the local servis drivers would come to watch and the stores in the area would close.
Still today, Beirutis come flocking to stock up on ma’amoul and legendary sorbet and Arabic ice cream, willing to pay a little extra for delectable treats that have always the right taste, texture and finest ingredients.
“My father did what he did with love and it comes through in the taste. I hope that there will always be people that can taste that difference.” Since his father passed away in 2013, Mitri Moussa is running Al Salam and baking according to his father’s secret recipes.
Many of his customers are regulars and they come from other areas, insisting that his namoura and sfouf, both semolina-based sweets have the right taste.
“On special holidays, you offer guests sweets. For St Barbara or Epiphany, for each season we make different sweets and in summer, ice cream,” Mitri explained the annual sweets cycle. “For St Mary on August 15 and St Dimitri, which is on 5 October, we make tamriyeh (semolina purses), ma’amoul for Easter. At present, these are also eaten on Muslim holidays.”
While ma’amoul, for example, is still a traditional Easter sweet, they have, like most sweets, become available all year round. It is, however, one of the few sweets that Lebanese make at home, with couples often baking together: men usually working the dough, women the typical wooden moulds. “Making ma’amoul at home is like a blessing for the house,” Mitri said.
Each type of ma’amoul, has its own wooden mould, his pistachio ma’amoul are oblong, walnuts rectangular and date round.
His booza (ice cream) comes in the old, rectangular cones and comes in many flavours - each is a case of love at first taste.