The Steps of College Hall
Bliss Street equals two things in my mind: food & AUB. It also equals a lot of memories that combined these two things. Upon reflection, I saw that the selection of where you were to eat lunch on Bliss was determined according to 4 factors:
• Money: how much you want to spend/have on you
• Health: how healthy you’re trying to be
• Time: how long before your next class that you’re actually attending
• Party of n: how many people are joining
So if you were eating alone, had only 5,000 L.L., and 10 minutes to spare – health goes out the window and you’re going to inhale a handful of Happy Meal burgers. However, if you’re 6 people with an hour and a half and 10,000 L.L. to blow, you’re having a Subway 6-inch on the Oval. This theory’s accuracy is not set in stone and does not count when determining whether you should go have a nutella crepe from Tonino because, in that case, the answer is always yes.
Here are a few examples of when this logic was used, unknowingly at the time, to determine where we should fuel up. Please keep in mind that this was pre-Urbanista/Paul/Roadster and, therefore, quinoa was still just the staple food in Peru. As you’ll see below, the health factor becomes more important as you age within the walls of AUB.
It was election day during the first semester at AUB and we were having lunch at “McDo” while students and people filled the street outside and chanted “Abou Taymoor! Abou Taymoor!” Somehow, our lunch transformed into a discussion about the political parties in Lebanon and whose actions could be considered justifiable given that the 2006 war had concluded just a few months prior. It was the first and last time I ever debated politics with my high school friends or anyone for that matter.
Some time in Sophomore year, after a Bio 201 quiz II, we learned that Whoppers were the best medicine for failing pre-medical students. Vegetating on the couches in the back and singing along to their radio in a daze, this was the only way to numb the pain of a Charbel Tarraf multiple choice exam that included every letter of the alphabet as a choice. BUT WHAT DOES “a & b, except c – h” EVEN MEAN?
Under the illusion that this was healthier than other options because it was “like eating at home”, Universal used to win the lottery quite often. It started out because of the escalope. Then it was for the potato salad. Then it was because you could have a huge plate of fattoush for 4,000 L.L. I think it was for the 80s music and the fact that you could have lunch with the whole restaurant at once – which was usually filled with a bunch of people you knew from other classes – since the tables were so snug. My dad keeps talking about how it was one of the first places to sell hamburgers in Beirut. He wants to go with me sometime because he hasn’t been since the 70s but I feel like I’d be betraying my AUB memories. Ah, the loyalties we form.
An old couple worked at this bakery. It was up the street that leads to Ghali’s, right before Books & Pens. They used to make the dough fresh every morning and have falafel Fridays. One of us would go pick up the manoushes while the rest waited by Jafet library. It became a morning ritual until we saw the granny lick her fingers one too many times while kneading the dough as we waited for our kishik to come out of the oven. It’s closed now.
This was the first place I had ever eaten at on Bliss Street. I was in the 8th grade and my cousin had brought me to AUB to help her with a Powerpoint presentation. I remember analyzing the graffiti on the benches while we waited for the computer lab to open. When I saw “Kiss from a Rose” carved into one of the beams, I knew AUB was going to be a university that had people like me…in 5 years. I had a chicken avocado sandwich from EuroDeli as a reward for all my hard work. Before it closed in 2010, it was a place we’d frequent because we could order “salads.” Oh Pasta Chicken Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing, where have you gone?
Zaatar w Zeit
“Kafta 3adeh bas bela jibneh. W ana kafta 3adeh bas bela mayonnaise. w ana kafta FULL OPTION. w ana kafta bela jibneh w shawiyit mayonnaise bas m7amas ktir. Orders at ZwZ were all combinations of kafta that always took too long and made us late for class. But they were good.
Eventually, you get over the fast food craze and realize that you need to take care of your cholesterol levels. The BigMac just isn’t worth the hour on the treadmill – at least, not this week. Kababji became the healthier option because you could order half portions and have salads that didn’t taste like glorified grass. Most of senior year was spent here, and then many post-grad visits too when I was briefly employed at AUB.
Spicy chicken sandwiches on the steps of College Hall facing Jafet. When your Party of n > 10 and you have no classes to get to, the health factor is ignored, and you just enjoy life. After all, you’re only young once.