Leonore and Olivia Dicker’s new book, Beirut on a Plate, is already a reference for hungry Beirutis.
A light, informative read, it breaks down the city’s best restaurants, furns, and food carts by neighborhood, summarizing each review with a tongue-in-cheek hashtag (Mayrig’s #bringyoursweatpants is a personal favorite). But how did two sisters from London end up eating their way across Lebanon in the name of research? Leo dishes on how she became a Beirut-based author.
How did you end up in Beirut?
I’m half French/half German and was born and raised in London. How I ended up here is pretty random, actually. About two and a half years ago I had a choice between interning at Esquire in Kuala Lumpur and Time Out Beirut and on a whim I picked the latter.
How long did it take you to feel settled?
It’s hard to tell. Some days I wake up and practically feel local, while on others I’m reminded on every street corner that I’m a foreign girl in Beirut. Somehow though, Beirut now feels like home to me – a home I sometimes hate but always love.
What’s the thing you love most about living here?
The fact that it feels like a constant holiday (note: this also happens to be the thing I hate most). Knowing that I could go to the beach or the mountains on any given day is beautiful, especially if these visits are accompanied by some nice wine, arak and yummy mezza.
How did the idea for Beirut on a Plate come about?
My sister Olivia and I were on vacation in Cyprus, having dinner at some Lebanese restaurant. After a couple of glasses of wine, the conversation turned towards our hopes and dreams and how we’ve always wanted to write a food guide. Oddly enough, the idea stuck the next morning and the writing/eating began.
What was the research process like?
I read every blog, website, and book that I could find on food in Lebanon, asked a lot of people to recommend places, and dug in.
What was the biggest challenge while writing it?
Knowing when to stop! Every day new joints came up and others closed down. The guide kept being updated until we had to just say khallas and start printing!
The biggest surprise?
That we actually made it happen!
If you had to choose, which restaurant is your favorite?
That’s a very hard question that depends on my mood – and budget. Em Sherif if I feel like going crazy and Abou Hassan in Bourj Hammoud for an orgasmic quick eat.
Images courtesy of Facebook and Em Sherif.