Back in Moscow I used to LOVE street food markets and festivals! First of all I love food and, shame on me, I adore street food. Little bites of sandwiches, burgers, rolls always seemed like a great idea to me. Though I was trying my best to limit myself in junk food, but I could hardly say no to fries or onion rings.
However, the main advantage of street gastronomic events was the atmosphere around: happy cheerful people, the smell of grilled meat, spicy chicken or freshly brewed coffee. It was the whole art exhibition, just made out of food! I remember a couple of years ago we had such a street market in the center of Moscow right in the middle of Russian winter! It was an unforgettable feeling, a mix of brain freeze and stomach satisfaction 🙂 I went so Slavic that day eating pancakes with caviar (of course, what else do Russians eat during winter :D) and drinking a Russian winterish beverage called Medovukha (light alcoholic drink based on honey and yeast). I also visited similar food festivals in Prague, Brussels and Amsterdam during my European vacations.
And so this feast arrived to Lebanon as well. It’s called Souk el-Akel, which In Arabic language has the meaning of food market. It is a massive event organized by a famous Lebanese food project called Nogarlicnoonions. At first the Souk was scheduled on each Thursday in Beirut, but during summer time it started to travel from one region of Lebanon to another. Me and my husband have visited it three times, twice in Beirut and once in the mountain area called Faraya. It was a really nice and tasty experience!
First time we participated in Souk by chance, as we were heading to Jazz day in Beirut downtown. We just had a dinner, so the food itself didn’t attract us. But the whole spirit did! We saw a lot of familiar cafes’ names, met young talented chiefs, witnessed the mini spontaneous barman show. And, of course, we enjoyed some good old Jazz live.
Second time we went to the market on purpose and on empty stomachs J So we had a lot of fun and a lot of food! The market was held in Beirut waterfront together with the drifting race competition. It was a heaven on Earth for my husband (he is an electrical engineer, owns an automotive garage called Car-Tech), as three of his passions met in one place: cars, food and me of course J We ate traditional Arabic shawarma with chicken/garlic paste/fries and with lamb/parsley/hummus. Should I describe how well it tasted?! By the way, these are the two classical combinations of shawarma. My second obsession that day was the Bubble waffle filled with chocolate sauce, Kinder, strawberry and marshmallow (I’m literally drooling now!).
Third time of our Souk el-Akel experience shifted to Faraya Mzar and it was called “Faraya on the beach”. Though this area is located in the mountains with not a single beach around, but the decorations of the event included sand dunes, pizza and donut air mattresses, sunbeds and tents. So what we did there? Yes, we ate. A lot. My cravings for that evening were as follows: sushi burrito from the Japanese sushi bar called Ichiban express (a huge sushi roll wrapped like a burrito or sandwich) and legendary Lebanese Frooza booza (handmade natural and fresh ice cream). And believe me I satisfied both of my cravings that night! As for my hubby, he remained faithful to delicious shawarma.
That is it for our Souk el-Akel adventures. The whole impression was very positive, however, some small details were a bother: not enough of space, tables or benches for such a huge crowd, lack of toilets and high prices on most of the items.