Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Hermel trout

Beirut Syndrome, and all kinds of Trouts?

Note: Re-edit of “Beirut Syndrome, the Hermel Trout, northern Bekaa Valley October 29, 2013″

Hermel Trout, pink Ocean Steelhead Trout and white Rainbow trout…

An old friend is in town.

He used to live and work here for 23 years, but after an absence of more than 10 years, he is back in town, searching for something that he hasn’t figured out yet.

sietske-in-beiroet.blogspot. com posted

Lebanon can leave you with an experience that cannot be equaled by most places, especially the more organized ones. Somehow after Lebanon, life always remains a little diluted, it seems.

This feeling may be because living here requires you to use all your senses and resources, thus giving you the feeling of being truly alive.

I have written about the fact once, that “the pace of living and the average stimuli are well beyond the ordinary” and although you may not realize it, it does mark you.

First, you catch the trout (or have someone do it for you)

Life after Lebanon always seems a little dull.

Many may search for this dullness and quietness, but having lived here for a substantial amount of time, especially during the war, it leaves a mark that cannot be erased.

My friend is in this predicament.  He currently lives in a French town, on a boat on the seaside. Something most people would wish for. But it is not giving him what he had in Beirut.
He’s searching, but not quite sure what it is he is searching for.
It could be spiritually settled, a desire to leave oneself behind in order to find another.
You choose your fish. Pink trout has a ‘pinkish’ stripe along its belly
Another friend, who also spend a considerable amount of time living in this country, is also back. Just for a short visit, connecting with friends, and she is no longer searching for something; she’s figured out what it is about Beirut.
The energy of the town heightens and amplifies all emotions.
This is an excellent thing when you’re feeling good, because this town will make you feel even better.
A constant high is a good thing (I do disagree). And since she had a job here, and it always seemed summer, times were good. But as she can vouch for, “lows’are also amplified”.
And although she agrees that you somehow leave something of yourself here, and  that after Beirut, you can never fully feel as if you belong in your own country anymore.
Other places can still give you that satisfaction that will help you forget Beirut. Although, ‘forgetting Beirut’ completely is not possible.
The fish gets weighed with odd-looking weights. The contraption that looks like something that came out of an engine is the one that counter-balances the weight of the bucket on the other side of the scale.
I, on the other hand, had the dilemma of fish. I do not like fish.
Difficult when you are married to a man who – no longer though, due to my lack of enthusiasm – fishes as a hobby.
He used to go spear fishing, and come home with all kinds of exotic Mediterranean fish, which I then had to clean and cook, both with little gusto, and to top it all off, eat as well.
There is no pleasure for me in eating fish. The fish bones, the milky white flesh;  not my cup of tea.
He’ll clean the fish as well
However, some time ago, I was served in a fish from a Hermel farm that tasted like salmon. It was delicious.
And so we bought that fish (locally raised trout in the Orontes river, or Nahr el-Assi), took it home, and cooked it.
Unfortunately, the same scenario ensued; fish bones and milky white flesh, not at all what I had eaten.
It was obviously a ‘case of the incapable cook’ (me). I don’t know how to cook a fish. And so this weekend I had a mission; how do you cook the Hermel trout? We went to Hermel to find a cook who can cook the famous trout.
This one came with eggs; ‘kaviar, as he called it.
The first thing I found out is that there seem to be two kinds of trout: the white trout and the pink trout,
The white one is called the rainbow trout, the other one is called the Steelhead Trout, a variety of the rainbow trout . And although I had eaten the pink one, I had bought the white one.
It seems a little impossible, because steelhead trout are ocean versions of the rainbow trout, which is clearly impossible in Lebanon.
Some say the pink one isn’t really a different trout, but just one that has been fed on a diet that is mixed with a synthetic carotenoid pigment, but I do not agree with it.
It’s definitely a different meat structure, and the taste is different as well.
Ready for the grill
The second thing I learned is that it is all about the mixture of spices, a jealously guarded secret by most chefs.
However, the chef in the restaurant of that excellent fish, while pretending to throw away garbage, quickly passed by my car on the parking lot, just as I was getting in, and shoved me a bag of the magical substance in my hand. “Don’t tell anyone I have given you this,” he whispered.
And so while my friends ponder about the finer mysteries of this Beirut Syndrome, I’ve figured out how to cook a Hermel troutSuum cuique.
Note 1: The Oronto River gushes from Lebanon and crosses 500 km within Syria.
Note 2: When bored, my brother-in-law goes fishing. And he leaves the task of the cleaning and cooking of the fishes to my old 85-year-old mother who suffers acute arthritis in the fingers and arm joints.
Note 3: Before 1975, Beirut had a special charm and many international activities and could be selected among the 5 most pleasant cities to visit and live with
The hole in front of you, and the top of some trees, is the place where the Orontos River (Nahr el-Assi) begins. In the middle of a desert, the water comes gushing out of this rocky hill (on which I am standing here). The wonders of geology.




March 2023

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