7 Lebanese Obsessions

1. Burgers
Classic Burger Joint
We have been going through this alarming oral fixation with beef patties for the past few years now. There are so many burger joints, bars, diners, bites, shacks, and/or huts that I have been a bit overwhelmed. Eventually, we will all be waking up from a nightmare where we were drowning in ground beef and our oxygen tanks had been switched with gigantic condiment bottles. Too much? Well, the hyperbole is just to stress how our obsession with sushi shifted to our love of cow. That and my imagination is quite powerful. This coming from the sole carnivore who is forced to eat Boca Meatless Burgers in a vegan-we-have-no-labneh household (but we do have durians) is saying a lot.
2. Cupcakes
My House was a Cupcake Meth Lab
The OTHER oral fixation. People don’t like cake anymore. People don’t like znoud el sitt anymore (you’re all crazy for that by the way). People don’t even like ice cream anymore. Everyone wants cupcakes. Red velvet this and oreo that. And I must admit, and I say this without kinky undertones, I am a sucker for anything red velvet. I believe it was Sugar Daddy’s in Qoreitem that started this revolutionary discovery in a pastry that’s been around since the 19th century. And honestly, they are the easiest things to bake for parties, but never do so during fasting periods when you have to resist ingesting frosting or licking the excess cake batter off the bowl. Regardless, don’t neglect the znoud.
3. Rooftops
Iris Rooftop
There’s something about being on a roof. Iris, Fly, The Roof at the Four Seasons, Alcazar, othernamesthatareflowersorinsects. Two of the poshest rooftop bars/clubs in the capital city, Skybar and White, have international reputations for having the best music, best performances, best events and best bests. It is difficult to get tables, reservations, and sometimes you won’t even be allowed in. Naturally, with all this hype and fancy shmancyism, you must be prepared to drop serious dineros – unless you go early and camp out at the bar (this is what I’ve heard). Beirut has quickly become known for it’s collection of rooftops with these two at the top of the list – which is funny considering we have the worst humidity in the region so combine that with crowds of people that hold drinks and smoke while checking out everyone else (with intermittent fits of controlled dancing) = a sticky situation.
4. Smartphones
iPhone > Blackberry
You are so rude. Put your damn phone down. If you are in the presence of another human being that you know and exchange actual conversation with – I am not referring to those awkward elevator/doctor’s waiting room moments – then put the phone down, flip it over and BE with them. If you prefer to peck away on bbm/whatsapp/imessage/imtoocheaptotextnow, then stay home in your cave and don’t bother socializing in the flesh. This is not a Lebanese phenomenon but we tend to have special relationships with our phones due to the exponentially increasing number of immigrated friends. With that said, don’t ignore the people that are still with you. If you’re out with people, assume that they actually would like to spend time with you instead of competing with bubbles of text that are asking you what you’re doing at that moment.
And couples, if your significant other is out with people other than you – you should trust them enough to leave them alone. Unless it’s an emergency (in which case, call), you can live without them for a few hours. If you can’t, buy a dog.
5. Anti-Punctuality
Cuckoo Clock at The Angry Monkey, Gemmayzeh
No one here is on time and thus comes the obsession of always being late. If they are punctual, then they probably lived abroad at some point in their life and they learned that it is common courtesy to not make people wait for you. Here in Lebanon, it’s a completely different rule. Majority do not even try to be on time. The beautiful part? When you complain that you’ve been waiting for 25 minutes because you thought they said “9 o’clock, don’t be late because we’ll lose the table”, they say “you know I’m never on time, come on” as if that is some form of a legitimate excuse for you setting the record for consecutive games of Temple Run while acting like you’re not being stood up by a table for 12. This is another situation where it would be acceptable to be bffs with your smartphone – but not once the people get there. They can disrespect your time but don’t disrespect their presence for then your argument loses all value.
6. Hamra
Birdhouses in Hamra
This area is actually just a district made up of about 4 main streets with their alleyways + the AUB campus. It is famous for being home to many coffee shops since the 70s – one of which was Cafe Modca, one of the first examples of Constructivist architecture in the Middle East (sadly, it has since been transformed into Vero Moda). Now, it has pubs as well. It seems that every 43 seconds, there is a new pub coming to life. Although Hamra had been on the decline in the late 90s, it came back as the “it” place to be due to it’s bustling nightlife and convenience, being in between two of the largest universities in Beirut. Most restaurants have opened branches in Hamra, along with foreign clothing franchises opening large stores along the main street. It seems the only thing missing is a decent movie theatre; this is ironic seeing that it used to be home to Beirut’s first cinemas.
7. Turkish Series
Watching Turkish soap operas has been an epidemic. When I was younger, it used to be mostly shows from Mexico resulting in me becoming a fan of Thalia and Maria Mercedes/Rosalinda. I have left these days behind. The Turkish counterparts have been dubbed in Syrian or Egyptian Arabic and have an audience that watch them religiously. It seems there’s a show for everyone, dramatic romances to action-packed mafioso gangsters – people will actually stay home to watch the latest episode of their favorite show that will probably include a coma, a love triangle, a murder and betrayal, not necessarily in that order.

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One thought on “7 Lebanese Obsessions

  1. Pingback: The Bambi Top 5 of 2012 « Bambi's Soapbox

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