3 things you (probably) don’t know about Lebanese sweets for Saint-Barbara

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Saint-Barbara is widely considered as the Oriental version of Halloween. Special Lebanese sweets are prepared for this holiday, and here are three things you did not know about them.

Saint Barbara is believed to have lived at around 300 AD. She was persecuted by the Romans because she secretly converted to Christianity, so she had to disguise herself to try and escape.

On the eve of this holiday, kids symbolically dress up to go trick or treating from door to door and receive money or traditional food that is prepared for the occasion.

1- Wheat (Kameh)

Lebanese Wheat. Picture via fragoleefarfale.wordpress.com
Lebanese Wheat. Picture via fragoleefarfale.wordpress.com

Saint Barbara is said to have tried hiding from the Romans in wheat fields, that’s why one of the traditional dishes prepared for this holiday is wheat boiled in aniseed flavored water.

2- Crisp doughnut balls (Awamat)

Awamat...YUM!
Awamat…YUM!

Syrupy doughnut balls are probably the sweetest Lebanese desserts as they are entirely made out of sugar. And the problem is, you can never eat just one of them. Once you start, you’re hooked.
Perfect for any occasion, they mostly surface during Saint-Barbara for Christians and Ramadan for Muslims in Lebanon.

The thing you (probably) don’t know about is that they come from Italy! (Fakhreddine probably brought them when he went there).

3- Katayef (Small pancakes)

Lebanese Katayef
Lebanese Katayef

Just like Awamat, Katayef are also very popular during Ramadan and Saint-Barbara in Lebanon. Now what you don’t know, (besides the fact that they are especially delicious when adding Kashta and Sugar syrup) is that this sweet is of Fatimid origin.

Katayef was traditionally prepared by street vendors as well as households in Egypt. It became popular in Lebanon in the early 1900s.