Tripoli is a city with a lingering history; the air stained with the scent of orange flowers, bustling sounds coming from the streets, markets and mosques, with lavish sweets to appease your lusty cravings, and a beautiful seaside for relaxation.
“Tripoli, the second largest city in Lebanon, is located in North Lebanon on the East Mediterranean coast and enjoys a strategic position with the added advantage of offshore islands and natural ports. This has allowed it to hold a dominant role in political and economic developments within the region for over two millennia. It is a commercial and industrial centre; oil storage, refining centre, the manufacture of soap and cotton goods, sponge fishing, and the processing of tobacco and fruits.”
Tripoli abounds with life, culture and ancient souks. There are around ten souks; the gold souk, the fragrance souk, the vegetable souk, the fish souk… you get the point. It is also known for it’s decadent arabic sweets, fresh fish, the dish; Samkeh Harra Traboulseyeh or spicy fish, fragrant orange groves, Hammams as well as its natural ports perched along the Mediterranean sea.
I was lucky enough to pay the food market a sweaty visit. Yes. I said sweaty. It was around 35C, crowded and looking very disheveled, struggling against the heat, I managed to come out the other end albeit looking like a drenched boxer…
Below video is a short walk-through of the souk of Tripoli offering a glimpse into its vibrant soul.
Some trivia for ya- The name Tripoli or translated to “Tri-City” comes from the fact that once, it was not one city but “three cities” in one.
The people in Tripoli are extremely friendly and to only describe them as extremely helpful would be a serious understatement.
When we arrived into Tripoli, we got lost! Road signs, for the most part, do not exist. So, we stopped and asked for directions. Two tremendously nice gentlemen, got in their car and led us to the souks, which turned out to be a 10-minute drive away. They proceeded to find us parking and pointed out the best path to the souks. I don’t know many places where people are so comfortable to liberally accommodate another stranger. I for one, would be sincerely afraid of looking completely wacko with no life, or just too consumed with my own busy life to be bothered.
Anyway, it was refreshing, to say the least.
To finish off a marvelous day, my brother Eli took me to visit the king of spicy fish for a good revitalizing sandwich.
As I mentioned earlier, Tripoli is enown for the Samkeh Harra Traboulseeyeh or Spicy Fish of Tripoli. This little hole in the wall has essentially made the fish into a sandwich by pureeing the it with the sauce to make a pate. He then spreads the pate on some Arabic bread and tops it with tomatoes, lettuce and spring onions. I tried to find out more about the ingredients and recipe but as you can imagine, he was in no mood to give up the throne.
Below is a short collage of the people of Tripoli and their surroundings. (All pictures are the property of Dirty Kitchen Secrets unless otherwise stated)
Malak El Samkeh El Hara- King of Spicy Fish
The following day my father made Samkeh Harra and was kind enough to share his special recipe.