Nothing Says Summer Like…

Do we really need to make a compelling case for why summer is our favorite season? We could wax poetic about the sunshine, hot temperatures, long days, rooftops, terraces, and general good mood people share. Or we could focus on some of the best foods and drinks that animate the hottest season of the year. Yeah, let’s totally do the latter!

  • Summertime is in its prime, and we know what’s occupying your mind: beach season, washboard abs, perfectly-chiseled physique. Time for diet and detox, right? Thanks to the power of fresh, natural and tasty fruit, you can stop cringing at the word “diet” and actually look forward to your next mealtime. Fresh fruit cocktails are so delicious that they could pose as dessert in disguise. A mountain of elegantly carved exotic fruit resting on a bed of fruit puree, splashed with fresh fruit coulis, and topped with a few spoons of clotted cream, a drizzle of honey and slivered almonds. Tempted? There are a number of cocktail bars in Beirut dishing up these wholesome cups of fresh fruity flair.
A Lebanese fruit cocktail (photo source: foodbeast.com)
  • Everybody loves ice cream. No matter what title it goes by—slow-churned, gelato, merry cream, booza, soft serve, frozen yogurt, sorbet—a scoop by any other name makes for a delightful treat. And with summer in full swing, we’ve got full license to indulge in all our favorites, from the classic vanilla bean to the more complex dark Belgian chocolate. In Lebanon, we even have flavors of our own, like rose water, almond, ashta with crushed pistachios, and mastic. And we’re notorious for our ice cream Yule-logs encrusted with genoise sponge cake. So quit quibbling over names and definitions, and let’s dig in to a pint together!
Homemade ice cream with seasonal flavors (photo source: nogarlicnoonions.com)
  • Nothing like a thirst-quenching drink to take the edge off summer’s heat. Whether you’re laying by the pool bronzing your skin, or noshing at a cafe with friends, or even grooving on the dance floor to the beats of the DJ, only a revitalizing cocktail can keep you cool and sated. How about an Aperol Spritz? Three parts Prosecco, two parts Aperol, and one part spritzer, this red-orange wonder is understandably an essential fixture at every genuine aperitivo across Italy. The Italians know how to live la dolce vita, and they’re practically our cousins. So let’s keep it in the family!
Doesn’t the Aperol Spritz resemble the sun’s hues at dusk? (photo source: ilglobo.com.au)
  • Yes, yes, we know—salads can quickly become mundane, leaving a whole lot to be desired and hardly putting a dent in your paunch. Many restaurants will charge you a fortune for a massive bowl of lettuce and little else, skimping out on the good stuff. In the summer, seasonal ingredients like purslane, baby thyme, watermelon, strawberries, and peaches can really bring to life a limp bed of greens. Some complex salads incorporate super-grains, like freekeh, which pays homage to one of Lebanon’s staple grains. The green grain marries marvelously with bitter arugula leaves, Manchego cheese, and sweet date pieces.
The beautiful thing about a salad is you can improvise with whatever’s available! (photo source: jackienewgent.com)
  • What comes to mind when you conjure up the ideal Sunday afternoon spent basking lazily in the sun with family and friends? Barbecue, right? Heck, you could merely throw some onions and tomatoes on the “mankal,” or skewer cubes of Nabulsi cheese interspersed with cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, and zucchini coins and have yourself a feast. But we Lebanese like our meats: kafta, anyone? How about taouk, those marinated hunks of chicken breast that demand garlic paste (“toum”) and pickles to be properly washed down? Don’t forget veal (or lamb), which pairs grandly with creamy hummus!
The ultimate summer classic: a lavish BBQ! (photo source: instagram.com/foodbyafram reposted by lebanoninapicture.com)

Contributed by Danielle Issa.

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About the Author

Danielle

Danielle was born into a Lebanese household in Southern California. Growing up, she constantly found herself living between two realities: outwardly, she was an American girl who loved swinging on the monkey bars and reading The Baby-Sitters Club. Inwardly, she was Lebanese, speaking Arabic at home and forbidden from attending sleepover parties. With age comes awareness and self-confidence, and Danielle learned to embrace these differences. She accepted that she'd forever be suspended between two worlds, and that she'd be like a tapestry, one culture woven into the other. As she grew older and worldlier, Danielle promised herself she would one day settle in Lebanon. And here she is. Three college degrees and a few consulting gigs later, she is now in her parents’ homeland, working in strategy management, fleshing out her blog Beirutista, and contributing to Bitfood. Danielle gets her hair coiffed several times a week, like any proper Lebanese girl, and she loves the traditional mezze. But she still prefers peanut butter to Nutella. And her American accent is unmistakable.