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.

Salma’s Food

‘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.

The Lebanese Kitchen

“Soulful, traditional family recipes from a Lebanese grandmother who knows her food.” Fran Miller, Acquataste


Following on from Phaidon’s classic home-cooking bibles of national cuisines, which started with The Silver Spoon in 2005 and has continued with 1080 Recipes, Vefa’s Kitchen, I Know How to Cook and India Cookbook, The Lebanese Kitchen is the definitive guide to traditional cuisine from Lebanon.


The Lebanese Kitchenbrings together more than 500 recipes, ranging from light, tempting mezes to rich and hearty main courses.

On the shores of the eastern Mediterranean and a gateway to the Middle East, the food of Lebanon blends textures, colours, scents and flavours from both, and has long been regarded as one of the most refined cuisines in the Middle East.


Many areas produce a range of home-grown fruit and vegetables such as tomatoes, apples, figs, beans, grapes and citrus fruits, and there are many traditional recipes that show the uses that resourceful home cooks have developed to make the most of seasonal produce.


Lebanese food has become increasingly popular in the last few years, and is nutritious and healthy (based on vegetables, oil and pulses and a balanced use of meat), as well as aromatic and tempting.

A combination of old favourites and some inspiring surprises, The Lebanese Kitchen is a must for everyone with an interest in this wholesome and delicious cuisine.