The Spill 2018 Recap

So we haven’t met here on the website since April 2018. A little short of a year ago. Allow me to give you a recap of how the past year went. If you feel like it, share how yours went in the comments.

First, if you follow me on instagram, you probably wouldn’t need this post. You probably know most of the stories here, because I almost never stopped sharing stories there. But there are some things that will be observed and phrased more elaborately here.

  • This year, I kicked up my food photography work into the professional world by working for a major client. SHAMELESS PLUG: CHECK MY PORTFOLIO PAGE. I was making recipes for short videos and taking photos of their food products. We filmed 31 videos that I will upload later to my Youtube Channel and I have shared some of the photos on instagram in the past year.

 

 

  • I’ve also worked with a dairy company where I styled for one time, then offered to shoot and style on my own for a couple of photos at a discounted rate that they afford in exchange of being on board for a higher budget project to come (gullible me). I only offered to style AND shoot because I wasn’t clicking well with their photographer (a family member). I did the shoot and waited long to get paid. Their excuse was that they’ll pass by to deliver the cash. Then asked me to pass by their house to pick up the money, and being out of my way, I couldn’t get there for some time despite me asking for them to use any money transfer service available. Lastly, they ask me if I picked the money up because they couldn’t find the envelope.
    And there it is folks, a case I lost because the blame was on me for not picking the money up (there’s nothing I can do anymore, I dwelled on that enough and had to let it go, no contract, no receipts)

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  • I got contacted for a few food shoots, I did the styling for video recipes and food stills with a photographer. I’ve done more work for my page though and I have shared them on my instagram feed
  • This past year, up until October, I met a lot of tourists through Taste Lebanon, the Culinary Tours company I work with, and made new friends from around the world who were able to see the city through my eyes.
    Shelly is a fellow blogger from New Zealand whom I had the pleasure to walk around with and eat and drink in Beirut in 2017. She got back to Beirut in 2018 as part of her travels so we can have some wine and chat! I wish I can repay the visit and take a break in NZ
    I met John on Instagram and through TL. I showed him Tripoli and took him another time, along with his photographer Alan, around to take photos for his new book, Saffron at the Souk. Can’t wait to get the book!
  • A lot of nature events happened this year.
    I cooked at Heaven Ecoland a few times. And when I wasn’t, I was just chilling on a hammock or showering naked in the river 😋
    The grape harvest season came early last year with the heat and drought. It was a lot of fun to participate in the harvest event at Chateau St. Thomas for the third year in a row. Your next bottle might be one I had a hand (or a foot) in making 😏🍷
    The Cherry Festival in Hammana was a delight to be at. A day out in the blazing spring sun was fun with all the fresh cherries and cherry flavored confections and concoctions
    In September I designed the logo, poster, and flyer for a Rural Film Festival in North Lebanon. It was a nice event followed by a wonderful hike in the famous Ammou’a E’zer Forest. A lot of photos I haven’t shared.
  • This past year was filled by so many events and projects with CLOWN ME IN. From the ToT (training of trainers) project, to the new-clown-recruitment project followed by our annual tour, and the storytelling street theater caravan tour. It was a busy year, thankfully. A few interjected fun stuff came up as well, like our hilarious Elections Campaign to mock the ridiculous 9-year-late elections we had last May, messing up the British ambassador’s speech at the inauguration of the new British Council office, taking over and performing in a Christmas festival in the mountains, and entertaining and hosting at several events.
    Lastly, I got the chance to go to Syria to give a training there, and it  was quite an experience to just be there.
  • Speaking of these projects, ever since October, I have lived like a gypsy. Living off of a small handbag because I stayed at my friend’s Sabine since we were doing a lot of clown work and rehearsals together. That was followed by a 2-week residency and training at Hammana Artist House on physical theater, theater space awareness, and dramaturgy. Moved back to Sabine’s end of November. Then back home to my family’s for a week. Then off to Sri Lanka for a two-week vacation (where we stayed for only a night in the hotel, only twice for 2 nights) and now back home. And last week I took a trip to Syria for a few days and back.
    There goes my consistent sense of “HOME
  • During this past year, I had a few media appearances. Twice live on air for a radio interview to talk about the clown work. And. recently, two weeks ago I was on a popular primetime TV show to give my word on ice cream and share some recipe, tips, and ice cream photography and styling tips

  • The thing I missed the most his year is cooking. I gave very few cooking classes, and I wasn’t having the time and mindset to cook at home (which home, one would logically ask) but I did entertain at Sabine’s for a group of their friends (diplomats and journalists mainly) and the food was a hit. I had the most fun time cooking, the smoothest EVER!

Private Chef Hisham Assaad - cookin5m2.jpeg

  • Apart from all the busy and hectic things, August was a terrible month for some reason. I wasn’t feeling like doing anything. I haven’t been posting anything on the blog since April and my instagram feed was feeling like a lot of effort to maintain (I’ll get to that in a later post). Slowly, I stopped posting on the main feed, but kept the stories alive because they felt more effortless.
    That Instagram pause lasted for around two and half months, until on our Lebanese dress-up holiday I decided to dress up as something I haven’t been and publish a post on my feed. It took time to be a bit more consistent, but I am acting upon my feelings rather than what the marketing world dictates to get the most likes and followers. It feels better that way!
    One of the effortless things I do is a photo of Beirut from the road I take to the highway every time I’m going down. It is the same view, same angle, but it is never the same.

Same View Hisham Assaad - cookin5m2

  • Lastly, and for my 31st birthday, I decided to take a strict decision.
    Something that is going to leave a mark.
    I saw beautiful semi-precious stones in Sri Lanka, and decided to get one of them, my birthstone, as an earring. AND YES. I got my ears pierced. Both of them.
    This is not a clip-on or magnetic earring.
    Here they are. Vibrant red-light-brown Garnets on both earlobes.

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And there it is. That’s how my year went. It wasn’t all pink and bright. It had the ups and downs, but I had to, like every time, pull myself together and keep going. Because that’s how it is, how it should be.

How was yours?
Tell me about it

Al Nakba and Palestinian Recipes

This year, March 15 marks the 70th commemoration of Al Nakba, the day after the declaration of independance of the state of Israel, the day Palestinians were kicked out of their homes and their village to make way for settlements for paid Jews from the world to live in.

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If you don’t agree with this at this point, please press Ctrl+W

What is different this year? The person in The White House decided he is playing a board game and falsy assigned a capital to an occupying country by doing what they’re doing best; occupying another. This year, also, the Palestinians aren’t taking it anymore and are revolting. A large number died was killed.

You’d ask, why a food blog is getting into politics? The answer is because I am not separate from this messed up world we live in. And this subject is dear to my heart. I’ve brought it up before and I will still bring it up now more than ever. My grandparents came to Lebanon from Palestine in 1948 when they left their homes for what they assumed would be a short time. Fifty years later, my family moves from UAE, their 1975 refuge from the Civil War, to Lebanon. We have no place to go as we were expelled due to sponsorship country regulations. So we move to the Palestinian Refugee camp in Dbayeh and here I am twenty years later living and making a living from here. Fortunately, my family got the Lebanese nationality, which made things somehow easier on several fronts.

Fighting has been taking place since Earth day, end of March. And for Al Nakba, more than 60 have been killed. YES, Killed. Murdered. Not dead, as reported. and more than 2700 injured to the date of publishing this post.

Still not convinced?
It angers me how the world is silent to the 70-year-old actions of the “only democracy in the Middle East” and the massacres commited to the land they occupy and the neighboring countries.
What also angers me is the cultural theft commited against anything Levantine being promoted, mainly in the US, as Israeli. Hummus is not Israeli. There was nothing called that. It is Levantine, Middle Eastern. There is Jewish bread. But there is not an Israeli hummus. And the list goes on.

Here is where I feel responsible; storytelling and food. Memories and oral history is a vital part in keeping the cause alive. I will do what I am good at, and I will use the platform and medium I have. So here it is. My food and my family’s inherited food is at your hands. Share the stories and the flavors. Fight the way you can, and let’s not turn a blind eye at all the brutal physical and cultural killing taking place until justice is served.

My thoughts and energy goes to all the Palestinians fighting for our land and for our right have the land for us!

Maftoul & Moghrabieh

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Msakhan; Sumac Chicken Rolls

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Fava beans, Peas, and Freekeh Salad

It’s seasonal produce at its BEST!

A couple of weekends ago, I had the chance to hide among the tall fava bean plants and dive deep to collect the long green pods.

I also kneeled down the search for the fresh pea pods hiding underneath barricades of pea vines. I stepped on numerous ones, despite being careful, attempting to reach a handful of pods sunbathing together in the open.

PIN-Freekeh fava beans peas salad recipe cookin5m2-4.jpg Continue reading

Rum Flambéed Asparagus Serrano Sticks

Another trip around the sun and another series of produce coming back again. What is the produce that you miss the most and craving for?

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We in Lebanon are – still – fortunate for four seasons (somehow) and with each we have a series of produce of vibrant sweet fruits and fresh green and colorful vegetables to garnish our palate with. It starts peeking through around early March with some juicy orange loquats and luscious red strawberries then some crunchy fuzzy green almonds that are sour at the beginning of their season we dip them in salt to break the sourness. The peak of this season is stone fruits like apricots start making an appearance.

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Sausage Shakshouka with Anchovies and Capers

This is not my first shakshouka recipe. It is said, once you make it, you’ll keep making it all the time. I am not an exception to the rule!
Rarely do I repeat the same dish exactly to the point. It has to be different in something. And this time won’t be any different.

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My love for shakshouka is real. A real love story. Or in the terms of food writers; it is a perfect marriage of ingredients and flavors. Jokes aside, it is. If you haven’t tried it at least once, you’re missing out. Continue reading