Bou Le Fou

…und der Himmel ist Blau!

Ready or Not?

I have come to realise that one can never be too ready for anything in life, including a blog post :-)

Here is a snapshot of my work in progress signaling a long overdue return to my Bou Le Fou world.

Work In Progress

P.S. I haven’t had the chance to post anything on my blog for quite sometime now. I promise you a comeback speech soon :-)

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It Doesn’t Always Take a Book to Understand the Title

Inspired by the Social Media Week – Beirut.(Yes already)

While the world has already moved towards facts, figures, studies, results & analytics; in Lebanon, marketers, panels & social media experts are still delving deep on personal thoughts, ideas and on “Our Father, Who Art in heaven”.

ROI, SMM, SEO, Crowd Sourcing, Converging, Readiness, and dearly so many other words that dominated nearly every other presentation but lacked every other number to back up what’s been said, made it clear that we are not on top of it.

At the Business Social Media Readiness 90:10ME presentation, the audience have had an extensive array of detailed  & credible insights, trends, facts and figures. However none was relevant. Why? It measured the U.S.A. market. The purpose of social media lies in its definition and is related to the society in which its members are communicating. A fact that keeps the Lebanese market, businesses and their readiness lacking behind the technology and its attributes and enjoying only international market’s left over successes. Yet another profitable opportunity in the drain.

On the other hand, Nokia Team managed to live up to what was promised in the title. Mainly based on insights, the “Thinking Global, Acting Local” presentation offered a concrete evidence of their consumer power in the Lebanese & regional market. A power that reflected a confident presence that was slightly disturbed by Ralph Nader’s ill use of the 
wireless presentation remote control. A fun fact that did not deter the team from presenting us with their latest in harboring talents and providing them tools and knowledge to develop applications that suit the region’s needs, wants and demands.

As for the Beyond Web 2.0 with Berytech Entrepreneurs, the panel tried hard to answer questions about how to evolve & what works in social media. The panel consisting of Makhsoom, WonderEight and Keeward have dodged questions they had no answers about as the Lebanese market is not measured except demographically. Yet, with social media, psychographics are essential and more valuable as trends are fast moving, and capturing value from followers or fans is beyond the age bracket or sex at a certain location. It is as well about how the fans, followers & subscribers, think, behave, react and why.

This short review is not intended to fire at any of the mentioned businesses that managed to break through the Lebanese market. It is only a confirmation of what they are seeking to find out and accomplish, requires a pilot study that would have been a breakthrough if it was executed not only for the Social Media Week but also for the entire Lebanese block.

Have you attended the Social Media Week in Beirut or abroad? What are your thoughts? Please share below.

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Give Peas a Chance

Inspired by Mohit, my Hindoustani loyalty card villain!

With far too much greyish & dusty weather than I am used to in Dubai, here is a green peas soup served with wild rucola salad & truffle butter spread on honey glazed oatmeal bread slices to color things up!

Ingredients:
750g frozen green peas
1,1/2 cup vegetable stock
100g fresh cream
250g fresh rucola (aka rocket)
75g thinly sliced brie
cracked black pepper (as required)
rock salt (as required)
chili infused olive oil (as required)
balsamic vinegar (as required)
pan toasted olive bread chunks
pan toasted pumpkin seeds

Process:

  1. For the soup: par boil the frozen green peas.
  2. Once soft, drain. Place in a mixer with the vegetable stock. Mix till fully combined.
  3. Pour the mixture back into the pot & heat till warm. Season with salt & cracked pepper to your liking.
  4. Add the fresh cream either all or to your liking.
  5. Serve warm topped with both toasted pumpkin seeds and olive bread chunks.
  6. For the salad: combine the rucola with the thinly sliced brie.
  7. Season to your liking with salt & cracked black pepper.
  8. Add 2 tbsps of balsamic vinegar & olive oil.
  9. Serve with honey glazed oatmeal bread slices with truffle butter.

Green peas are loaded with A, B-1, B-6, C, and a super-sized serving of osteoporosis-fighting K. One cup of boiled green peas has 46% of your required daily of vitamin K-1, known for maintaining bone health and helping blood to clot to prevent bleeding. Peas are high in fiber and low in fat and contain no cholesterol. Plus, they’re a good source of vegetable protein.

Did you know that a 100-calorie serving (about 3/4 cup) has more protein than 1/4 cup of almonds or a tablespoon of peanut butter? No wonder peas were favored by the ancient Egyptians, who buried them in their tombs for use in the afterlife. http://www.webmd.com

Were you the kind of kid who pushed green peas, uneaten, around your plate? It’s time to reconsider this vitamin powerhouse.

What is your favorite soup and salad? Let me know below!

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F in Exams

Not to be on the dramatic side of having failed an exam, everyone has been there.

You prepared well for your exam, reviewed twice(the maximum I have reached) your study book – cover to cover, had your mum’s zaatar sandwich(dry thyme, sumac, toasted sesame seeds & olive oil) to “help you” stay vigilant while studying and to stimulate your brain during the exam, prayed the entire rosary for the first time in years and had your mum build a shrine in ur room, with candles & bakhour(incense) burning in the background. No, this is not a voodoo session but I enjoyed the outcome of it all: breakfast, snacks, lunch, fruits, dinner, desserts & tea. All delivered briskly and lovingly to wherever I was studying: bedroom, living room, roof, kitchen, balcony, neighbors, garden & often the mountains.

Please note that studying for exams would bring everything to a halt at home. There was this bold unwritten rule while we had exams: no works should be done, no loud TV/Radio, dare anyone honk, never ring the door bell, only knock the door, parents go hush hush & we were able to use the home phone for as long as we wanted under the excuse of “it was a classmate on the other side of the line”.

Armed with a holy yellow candle your aunt lit for Saint Rita & Mar Charbel the entire day on your honor, you sit for your exam ready to take on the unexpected, freeze when you receive the papers and then go blank! Classic fail!

Here is a book F in Exams by Richard Benson. It is a combination of extremely amusing & laughable wrong exam answers given by students and apparently an all American bestseller! No doubt! :-D

Here are my favorite snaps of my favorite pages.

F In Exams by Richard Benson.
Answers that cracked me up!
How close to math is this?
Can’t get funnier!

Have you ever failed an exam? what exam was it? and what was the most stupid answer you gave or thing you did during an exam?

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Coco Fesses: Mes Seychelles

Pour Sami Victor et David Croisée, mes premiers Seychellois!

Not your average archipelago, Les Seychelles are one of the most unprocessed & charming islands I have ever set foot on.

Well positioned at 4 degrees south of the equator & roughly 200 Kilometers northeast of Madagascar & outside the cyclone belt, these 110 (constitutionally 155) gems of group of granite & coral islands will fast forward you to a heaven you have always longed for.

Effortlessly, our plane lands into the airport of the main island, Mahé. Your first meet and greet while on the tarmac: a picturesque granite wall mountain side that runs all along the runway, parallel to the ocean. Although it was a brief encounter, the memory of this dwarfing screen will be carved into my consciously existing self for many lives to come.

Swiftly out of the airport and into our coastal hotel, we hit the car rental desk with a road map in an attempt to discover Mahé and its hidden treasures. Although not on every visitor’s to do list, Mahé proved to be exciting and diverse. Starting from Victoria, the capital, its fruit & vegetable markets, post office, little window shops, tiny streets and its popular rendez vous drinking spot Pirate’s Arms, we took Le Chemin de Soucis for an unexpected drive through the lush hillside. Through sunshine and rain, we went into & out of the highly recommended Beauvallon Beach, Anse Royale, Anse Takamaka(named after the Takamaka tree: the base of one of the wicked Takamaka Rum in the nation), the tranquil Baie de L’Intendance, Port Launey & Anse Soleil to name a few and so many unnamed, unspoiled & secluded beaches with turquoise blue waters that we invaded for snorkeling and skinny dipping! I couldn’t resist!

Sleeping happily ever after discovering Mahé, it was time for Praslin Island and our fantastic Constance Lémuria. One of the main highlights of the island is the UNESCO World Heritage site of Vallée de Mai, centrally located, it is the home of the Coco De Mer known colloquially as Coco Fesses. Home to 800 years old and 30 meters high trees, this guided tour in the Vallé de Mai was a trip back in time when rare species were common & the well beloved Louis XV named Praslin by Ile de Palme. Right after, we’ve head to few of the finest beaches in the world: the Côte d’Or, Anse Lazio & Anse Kerlan: never ending stretches of fine white sand for a good dose of fun, wilderness & tranquility.

Catching a Cat de Coco, we head to La Digue island, 43 Kilometers from Mahé, is the home of ox-carts, the steamy Good Bye Emmanuelle movie & Anse Source d’Argent. A cycle, a 101 on how to crack a coconut, a Seybrew (local beer) & a tap on the back of a 90 years old tortoise was just the start. La Digue is the least developed of Mahé & Praslin though its emerald waters, sugar white sands and great sea smothered glacis appear unexpectedly & seemingly from nowhere as if by magic of Seychelles. I am all out of words just like the locals who refused to tell me more about that shameless Emmanuelle movie.

Our trip to the Seychelles was never complete without a visit to our favorite locals The Victors. An on the spot dinner at their hillside island home have taught us a great deal about their culture, food, habits, values & most of all alcohol! Merci toujours Maman, Papa, Ralph et Jacqui!

Here are some interesting names of roads, bays & islands that made everything sound like a bed time story: Petite Anse, Anse à la Mouche, La Brulée, Pointe au Sel,  Ile Curieuse, Anse Bonnet Carré, Ile Boudeuse, Ile aux Vaches, Iles Cousin et Cousine and Ile Silhouette.

Did you know: One of the Seychelles natural resources are cinnamon trees. It is only the Seychelles calling out your name the next time you smell cinnamon in the air. Pack up!

Till we meet again, you’ll always be my Seychelles.

Your Brie, My Camembert

 To Ursula, my partner in crime!

Brie or Camembert? Nearly made exactly the same way, the only differences these two cheeses carry are the size and “terroire”. And of course a different “terroire” means different tastings, textures and flavors. For example a Brie de Nangis from the south west of Paris has a very fruity flavor. A Camembert de Normandie has a slight aroma of mushrooms and mold. YUMO! (I am very sorry Picon, but you need to grow up  just a little).

Both cheeses are charachterized by a velvety white rind and a creamy center, however the milk used to make the cheese determines the colour of the interior; as for the exterior, factory made varieties tend to have a thick rind. In contrast, artisan examples grow a thinner white crust.

There are plenty of ways to enjoy a brie or a camembert. My favorite is to have it warm, served on a bed of apricot jam, with a tossed green salad, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of mustard powder & cracked peppercorns. Some people prefer strawberry jam, and that goes with it perfectly as well.

Being a vegetarian I always add  flax seeds and textured vegetable protein made out of defatted soy flour. This will add a crispy texture to the palate and carries lots of fibers, iron & magnesium!

Now here is a snap of the camembert I prepared. Since matured dates where available, I have deseeded, diced a couple and tossed it with the salad. A great add-on to the dish.

Since dates were available, I have deseeded, diced and tossed a couple with the salad. A great add-on to the dish!

What is your favorite cheese, let me know below!

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Consumers: Your Bread & Olives

A couple of decades ago, it was very common and expected  in Lebanon to share someone’s bread and olives as a sign of commitment particularly when the times got tough.

This very basic form of human relationship is still very much relevant nowadays and will evolve to be a critical aspect of any business’s success as personal interconnections with clients are as essential as your bread & olives in your daily life.

Personal Experience

When I started with my own business, my main focus was the products and how great they were; indeed they were of a high quality with a story behind each item.

After a while, there wasn’t anymore enough words to describe the greatness of these products and it became less appealing and repetitive. I realised I suffered marketing myopia.

Then I turned my attention to our loyal clients and that was a hit! There was no other way to it and I believe that clients are the clue for a guided success. Shifting the company’s focus from product to client was one of the best decision ever taken.

Some clients become your best friends, your inspiration & mainly your bread & olives.

It is very important to hold your clients captive. But remember those are free captives! The moment you start abusing your relationship with them, they will walk out of captivation, freely.

Never share your clients’ details with a third party. It is a better practice to send your newsletters from your own domain rather through a third party website that will sell your database and bombard your clients’ email addresses with irrelevant emails.  Remember, your clients are free to unsubscribe and studies have shown that they will start thinking less of your products and offers. We personally did it through Constant Contact & I recommend it.

Certain clients love personal attention, the others dont! You need to get  to know who you are dealing with, first. Their needs, wants and demands. Not through never ending questionnaires & forms but through genuine conversations that lead to profitable relationships for both. These genuine conversations have to be consistent with ever changing factors such as season, religion, psychological, political, etc.

Never miss an opportunity to engage your clients in a two way conversation. Sometimes, the only thing you have to do is listen effectively.

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My Odds on Favorite Men F/W 2011/12

French Press Technique

Inspired by a virtual coffee I had today with Wafa’ -a dear friend- while on Google Chat.

Here is my own version of an espresso macchiato prepared at home.

Coffee, an acquired taste! Luckily I got to know how to enjoy preparing a cup, in most of its forms and basics. Being able to spare no detail while preparing coffee should not be disregarded. My favourite spot for an ideal cup of coffee is home :-). It is more of a ritual rather an instant preparation! Here is a favorable French Press Technique clip. This is valuable information, I hope you appreciate it. Thank you plenty James Hoffmann.

French Press Technique « « jimseven jimseven
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How do you like your coffee & where? Below is the box!

Social-ism: in a network near you

Inspired by the U.K riots.


We all know what social networks are and the least knowledgeable of us can cite at least 5 different mediums and platforms from which he or she can throw a revolution. I am not  blabering about Khloe Kardashian hosting a night at the Beatles Revolution CLub, nor about Polo Ralph Lauren dropping the word Polo from its brand name. Instead, in todays world, I call these revolutions: FataDiversions mingling closely with Mental Distress. Not only because it is a global phenomena but also because it is continuous and reoccurring under different names and forms: political, economical, religious & cultural.

According to Merriam-Webster: “Socialism is a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done.”

“Socialism—defined as a centrally planned economy in which the government controls all means of production—was the tragic failure of the twentieth century. Born of a commitment to remedy the economic and moral defects of capitalism, it has far surpassed capitalism in both economic malfunction and moral cruelty. Yet the idea and the ideal of socialism linger on. Whether socialism in some form will eventually return as a major organizing force in human affairs is unknown, but no one can accurately appraise its prospects who has not taken into account the dramatic story of its rise and fall.” by Robert Heilbroner.

Just as socialism failed to sustain countries and governments, lately social networks have shown signs & symptoms of states of illnesses that need to be addressed. One of those issues is morality. If moral reasoning is an individual or a collective practical reasoning about what, morally, one ought to do: start torching neighborhoods and looting while using Twitter & Blackberry messenger to organize, regroup and launch assaults, then I believe social networks have to be closely monitored & controlled as an open source to anything including the bad.

For Britain, with Love.