I first came across Mymouné products in a hectic Middle Eastern grocery store in Brooklyn. Just seeing letters spelling out "mulberry" was enough to turn me into a devoted follower. Mymouné then came up during a conversation with the creator of the cult yoghurt brand White Moustache (same mulberries were going into her recipe) and as I was skimming through the pages of Saha, depicting chef Greg Malouf's journey through Lebanon and Syria.
Mymouné means "my preserve" in Arabic. It was started by two sisters, Youmna Goraieb and Leila Maalouf, near the end of the Lebanese civil war in 1989 in the village of Ain El Kabou resting in the foothills of Mount Sannine. Tired from the war and isolated from the rest of the country, the sisters felt the need to provide a line of work to locals, especially women whose spouses were just returning from the war.
The sisters utilized their large stone barn to start researching traditional recipes, educating themselves about pasteurization. Cleaning out the barn, they found an old still. The first product they came up was a rose syrup from the roses in their garden. There was an abundance of fresh fruit in their orchards and no market to sell it at, so they moved on to preserving. Husbands tasted the recipes. Children stuck labels on the jars.
All fruits and petals that go into Mymouné jars are handpicked. They are cooked, uncovered in small batches to conserve their natural aroma, colors and nutritional properties. Fruits are kept whole. They are 100% natural, no citric acid, colorants or preservatives are used.
Since 2005, Mymoune has been the winner of UK's "Great Taste Award" 12 times. But it stays true to its original form, a small group of women, picking, sorting, distilling, cooking and packing their local harvest in a stone barn. I wish to be there someday.