Salma & Her Food
‘ I’m a professional English cook. I went to college and worked for over 30 years as a cook, but at home… I cook Lebanese ’ – Salma Hage
Salma Hage, a Lebanese housewife from Mazarat Tiffah (Apple Hamlet) in the mountains of the Kadisha Valley in North Lebanon, has over fifty years experience of family cooking. She learnt to cook from her mother, mother-in-law and sisters-in-law, and, having helped bring up her nine brothers and two sisters, would often cook for the whole family. She has also spent many years working professionally as a cook.
‘For me family and cooking are inseparable, and they are the things I love most in life. So it makes sense that since my son and grandson George have become vegan, I too have returned to my roots and gradually become much less interested in meat’ – Salma Hage
Salma’s eating habits have come full-circle in the some fifty years in which she has been cooking. For the first two of three decades of her life, as it had been for many earlier generations, her diet was mostly vegetarian, with meat very much reserved for celebrations. Then, after the Second World War, as luxuries gradually became more available, she began to cook with more meat. Over the years, she compiled her definitive book on her home country’s cuisine, The Lebanese Kitchen.
More recently though, Salma and her family have found themselves becoming less and less interested in meat once again.
Cooking at home has once more become about eating more vegetables, pulses and grains. At first, it was a challenge – my husband especially associated being vegetarian with being poor. We have begun to realise that we simply don’t need a lot of meat to eat well or feel satisfied. – Salma Hage
And so, though she will still cook meat for a large party or special occasion, Salma’s latest book is about how she likes to cook at home now – simple, vegetarian, mezze-stlye dining.