BEIRUT — Born in Beirut, food stylist and blogger Joumana Accad has taught thousands of home cooks about the traditional and legendary cuisine of her native Lebanon. Her extensive travels in her own country have brought her to local villages and towns to learn the customs of the harvest and to make a variety of meals with the area’s homegrown ingredients. Her friendships with many locals have introduced her to a number of the wild herbs and spices grown in the hills and mountains of Lebanon and in other countries.
“I recently made this Vegan Chocolate Cake for a neighbor,” says Joumana. “I told her I would make the cake with tahini and she liked the idea (and loved the cake). I used tahini, grape molasses (to add sweetness), and semi-sweet chocolate chips. I topped the cake with fresh sliced bananas glazed with apricot jelly, but the bananas can be switched to raspberries or strawberries or blueberries, or any fruit to add to this moist chocolate cake. The ingredients yield a small cake 9″ wide, and about 1″ thick. It can easily be doubled for a two-layer cake.”
In her cookbook, Taste of Beirut, Joumana shares her heritage through traditional foods and anecdotes, teaching anyone from newbies to foodies how to master Lebanese cuisine. With over 150 recipes inspired by her Téta (grandmother) in their family’s kitchen, she captures the healthful, extraordinary flavors of the Middle East and makes them easily accessible to home cooks and chefs everywhere. She completed high school in France and moved to the United States in 1979. She is the mother of two grown children and a former school teacher, photographer, pastry chef, caterer and translator.
Big on fresh, locally-grown seasonal foods, Accad spells out the benefits of Mediterranean cuisine as she weaves narrative and recipe into one on her blog, TasteofBeirut.com. She has published an acclaimed cookbook by the same name wherein she shares her heritage and captures the healthy flavors of the Middle East.
“This full-time occupation is a testament of gratitude to my Téta, Sitt Nabiha (Aftimos) Zabbat, a native of Deir el-Qamar in the Chouf Mountains, who delicately handcrafted the most incredible dishes. I have tried to emulate her while raising my children in the United States with the food of my native country, to give them a taste of my childhood and culture. TasteofBeirut.com is a window into the Eastern Mediterranean, where Lebanese food mingles with Armenian, Syrian, Persian, Iraqi, and Egyptian among a score of other flavors. I personally curate the original content of TasteofBeirut.com as well as style and photograph each and every image,” says Joumana.
Joumana was recently named “One of 11 most popular Lebanese Food Influencers around the world.” She remains active on social media channels, especially on Facebook, and has created several how-to videos on YouTube, such as her Baklava in Ten Minutes video that has attracted over 944,000 views.