Wherever you wander in the Lebanese city of Tripoli, your gaze falls on the “cake stands” that have the identity of their owners. Each of them has a story and a story that testifies to the success of master Trabelsi in achieving a balance between preserving the heritage of his popular cuisine and ensuring continuity in light of the challenges imposed by modernity on the taste of the public. These stalls are the color of the imagination and the taste of creativity, which over time have become the main monuments of the ancient city.
“A Mortgage Will Know”
Forty years ago, at the end of Al-Baladiah Road, Jalal Talib Abu Hassan’s booth witnessed the story of the “sweet bite” in Fayhaa, which distributes “good and good” sweets made of various kinds arra. . The student of this craft is considered part of the Lebanese heritage, as he inherited it from his grandfather, Waheeb Al-Loun, the most famous seller of “Qudamieh” in Tripoli.
From an early age, Xhelali accompanied his grandfather, who was carrying the end of the car pulled by his husband, and left the Zkak Al-Blat neighborhood in Tripoli for Al-Zahria, where the townspeople were waiting for him.
Taleb inherited from his grandfather the passion for “doing good things” and also preserved his traditional cart, as well as the magic of flavors and the secret of recipes, the amount and firepower of which vary between seasons and climate (summer violations , middle steps and winter medications).
Xhelali affirms his adherence to the criteria of success, the main of which is to provide the best ingredients of “almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, sesame, coconut and cashews”, because the mistakes are unforgivable and claims that “everyone who enjoys the products his for once will definitely return. to her. ” Therefore, he notes during his visit the diversity of clients from different Lebanese regions.
Talib adheres to this craft, as he is the one who covered his family and gave them rational education and good education, also undertook the task of transmitting the secrets to his son, who vowed to develop it and introduced the ingredients of young. and moved to the al-Jazari industry of coconut, hazelnut and almond chocolate, which requires effort and time.
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Abu Hassan compares the prices of the sweets he offers with those sold in luxury stores, as they are no longer available to the general public. He claims that “some confectionery shops tried to imitate it, but failed due to the manipulation of some ingredients, as they used colors and flavors instead of nuts to save”.
Haj Xhelal is not afraid of competition. “There is no competition for me and if they try, they will fail because I have faith in my work and my honesty. I taught my son the importance of storing premium ingredients and where to get them. because customers will not be patient with poor quality. ”
The sweetness of the trabelian shmaisa
Not far from Abu Hassan Basta is another landmark of the Trabelian “good bite” belonging to the Haddad family. For almost seven decades, the men of the family have inherited the secrets of preparing “halawa al-shmaisah”, a kind of dessert made with rice. and sugar with transparent gelatinous appearance that is not confused.The visitor finds it only in Tripoli.
The youngsters of the family take turns offering this kind of dessert which is unique to the Al-Haddad family, which claims to own the Shmaisah Halawa industry, and they got it from their old partners, the Shmaisah family. Ahmed says that at the age of seven he started his career with his father and after four years of training he cooked the first dish that met the conditions and specifications. He relates that he “took advantage of his father to go to Umrah and went out to sell Shmaiseh’s halaw in a cart.” Since then, he has continued the family craft, which became famous and opened the doors of various Lebanese regions. to Europe, Australia and the United States.
When asked about his willingness to reveal the secret of the profession and to teach it to others, he replies: “Certainly not, because on the one hand it provides me with a livelihood, and on the other hand it preserves my family name and reputation, because “The educated person can manipulate the components and thus distort the goods.”
“Many tried to imitate him, but failed.”
Al-Haddad says: “There are simple details that make a big difference. It takes a long time to burn and it must be cooked the day before it is sold, because it can not be eaten hot, as the young man supplies it. with a pancake after it is made into thin pieces and we fill it with fresh animal cream before closing it. ” from the edges and cover with powdered sugar.
Ahmed Al-Haddad says: “The price of shmaisa halawa with cream is still acceptable compared to other sweets. One kilogram of cream with cream is 100,000 Lebanese pounds in pasta,” or about four US dollars, while its price doubles. at some stores that buy it from the Al-Haddad factory. .
He points out that there are different types of them stuffed with nuts, like nuts, almonds and cashews, in addition, Ahmad sells the sweetness of rice, which is a kind of Tripoli made with rice, sugar and cheese.
Baskets in different colors
Between this and that, a series of stalls lying on the corners of Tripoli, which have become a permanent source of livelihood for the inhabitants of the city. For example, Abu Badr Al-Tarabulsi Basta, which specializes in pudding, a type of homemade dessert made with milk, starch and sugar, covered in syrup, coconut, raisins and pistachios.
The month of Ramadan witnesses the spread of various carts selling caraway, knafe, mashbak and other Arabian cakes, which uniquely Tripoli in their taste and quality from the rest of the regions, in addition to jelly cakes, the colors of which attract passers-by mainly. commercial markets.