Naziha Baassiri

Teta’s wisdom

“Remove chewing gum from clothes by immediately placing them in the freezer so that the gum hardens and it is easily removed,” advises Teta, the Lebanese word for grandmother.

Informative tips from cleaning to cooking to basic hygiene can be found in the newly released coffee table book Teta’s Wisdom. With its bilingual content, this 60-something page pocket-size book proves to be an interesting read for adults and a good guidebook for youngsters as well.

But make no mistake, the content is not limited to a simple guide of useful tips. Teta’s Wisdom is divided into five chapters that offer more than 25 home tips and remedies with an entire chapter dedicated to recipes for making grandma’s favorite Lebanese sweets and jams.

Hiba al-Chaarani, the 22-year-old author, was inspired by her own teta and teamed up with Angela Nurpetlian for the humorous illustrations and Anissa Helou for the great food section, giving the book an edge while maintaining its heartwarming qualities.

And as they say, one can never have enough of a good thing. Perhaps the frosting on the cake is that 50 percent of the book’s proceeds are donated to Alzheimer’s Association Lebanon. To that end, one cannot help but notice that the title of book, which is the fruit of a collaboration between Turning Point Books and AAL, is tailored to perfection.

Turning Point Books Editor Dina Dabbous told NOW Extra that the paperback is “a piece of Lebanon… preserved for the family.”

Dabbous also explained the commercial process of making the book, saying that the company has always been interested in Lebanese-themed books printed in English. “But since half the proceeds are being donated [to AAL], we had to come up with a cost-effective solution” to keep the book interesting, but also marketable.

The book does not host the glossy pages with the refined font; however, its colorful illustrations despite the matte quality do not fall short of evoking childhood memories of bedtime stories.

But the paperback, while entertaining, only falls within a trend that seems to be “in” at the moment. Books highlighting Lebanese pop culture have been around for a few years now, such as Amalgam, Amalgam Volume 2, Life’s like that!, Miss Guided: How to step into the Lebanese glam line and Abou Abed Jokes Book.

When asked about the rise of the genre, Dabbous said that while young voices have a place in Lebanon, the small country lends itself to “a big fish in a small pond” scenario.

However, this was not to downplay the significance of the new genre pushed forward by young artists and authors. “Such books are authentic to Lebanese culture,” said Dabbous, and could be used as a vehicle for the Lebanese diaspora to stay in touch with their roots.

Teta’s wisdom can be found at Librairie Antoine in Hamra, Virgin Megastores in downtown Beirut and Recto Verso in Monot.

  • ZeeZeeTop

    What a cute book, makes me a little homesick!

    October 13, 2010

  • Marc

    TETA is not Arabic!! It is a Lebanese word deriving from Syriac Savta meaning Grandmother.

    October 12, 2010