The past few days saw the 2022 International Gastronomy Village event take place at the foot of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. One of the biggest culinary events in the country took place at the Jardins du Trocadéro (Trocadéro Gardens), where 50 countries participated, offering a unique taste from their homes to anyone who attended, and the MENA region didn’t disappoint.
Out of the 50 countries that participated, seven were from the Middle East and North Africa, including Algeria, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Tunisia. Each nation had a pavilion providing something from their country, sharing its cuisine with whoever would like to taste a dish from places they probably haven’t been to before.
Saudi Arabia was one of the biggest participants in the event, holding seven pavilions on its own. Each pavilion offered something different; for example, there was one that provided guests with Arab coffee from five different regions within the kingdom and educated them about how its made as well as the coffee’s significance to its people.
Another pavilion had handcrafts, where guests could get souvenirs, but the biggest were two dedicated to dates, the history of their production, and tasting samples of desserts made with them. Of course, since this was a gastronomy festival, a Saudi pavilion offered some of its well-known regional dishes, such as mutabbaq/murtabak, mandi, jarish, kabsa, and more.
“I realized the impact of how just sharing a meal with someone can change the perception of a country through gastronomy. It honestly is such amazing soft power,” Mayada Badr, CEO of the Saudi Culinary Arts Commission, told Arab News.
Algeria’s pavilion at the International Gastronomy Village prepared its dishes on-site the same day, where they used regional recipes, including couscous, rechta, chakhchoukha. The pavilion’s chef Mama Nissa stated that they wanted to make sure their dishes were both healthy and gourmet, and that’s why they worked with a dietician to offer the best plates possible.
Man’Ouché ran Lebanon’s pavilion during the event, where they made traditional Lebanese manakish using homemade and authentic materials to get the best dishes possible. Their dough is shaped by hand, then placed in a saj oven serving only fresh and healthy products.
Morocco served up some of its most well-known dishes for guests of the festival, including couscous, sweet and savory tagines, pastillas, pastries, dates, oil of argan, summer cocktails flavored with mint, orange blossom, saffron pistils, and their famous green tea with fresh mint. The Moroccan pavilion also offered a display of a Moroccan caftan, calligraphy demonstrations, and music from the different regions of the country.
Beyond food, this year’s International Gastronomy Village was also full of several performances by local and international artists sharing their different cultures and music.
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