Last Saturday, Qaa welcomed as a King Anthony Rahayel, a former Lebanese dentist and photographer reconverted into an influencer. All the restaurants and merchants in the city are ready to give their best to welcome and attract tourists. We take this exceptional opportunity to multiply discoveries of oriental flavors and encounters.
It is near an old Ottoman irrigation route that we meet Anthony. We follow him in two butcher shops to taste raw meat - liver or gizzards - mixed with onions and / or labneh.
Then, we are then by a couple of old people to discover a new way of preparing olives to make oil. We sit in front of a strange, odorless white substance in a bowl.
Astonished, we wait for Anthony to taste, before taking our turn, sprinkling it with sugar. It's a delight. "It's pure sheep fat! It is extremely rare and excellent.” It is clear that he is right.
After having thanked our hosts, we resume our culinary journey in a restaurant. Even before entering the main room, we can feel the multiple flavors that emerge from different dishes. The owners of the restaurant warmly welcome us: they have many hopes for Anthony's arrival!
For the occasion, they put the dishes in large: the table is loaded with food of all kinds: scrambled eggs, labneh, balls of chanklich, sfihas, magdus, etc. Once again, it's a treat. Anthony continues to compliment all he has the opportunity to taste. For our part, we are satisfied.
We let Anthony continue his tasting odyssey and we embark on a brief hike to the Sainte-Thérèse chapel, overlooking the north of the Bekaa plain. We contemplate a wide sunny panorama.
Around 17h, loaded with more than 200 flying Chinese lanterns ordered for the occasion, we go in front of the church Saint-Elias. Welcoming a Lebanese influencer is not common. We want to give families the opportunity to participate, in their own way, in this event. Public lighting is switched off around the church. We settle on the square, and, with our tireless companion, Hykmat, we begin to prepare the first lanterns.
Over time, more and more families come to the square, which becomes too narrow to welcome them all: the newcomers settle on the road that pass through the village, which does not fail to provoke the ire of some motorists!
On our side, we battled in the dark for a good hour to show children and parents how to open these "damned” Chinese lanterns without damaging them. Meanwhile, Hykmat is completely absorbed in his work: in total darkness, sitting on a wall, he manages to accomplish a considerable amount of work!
As we move from group to group to make sure everything goes as planned, the first cubes of white wax are lit.
The square is illuminated. The smiles are reflected in the light of these modest sparks and we hear the laughter and exclamations echo, here and there, across the square, as the first lanterns take off. "It's Ktiir helou," says Anthony.
And so we could see a few dozen lights take off in the night of the Bekaa.
Volunteers provide live alongside the families of Qaa on a daily basis. Thanks to you, the small merchants had the chance to highlight their art and culinary tradition with a renowned Lebanese influencer.
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