Posts

Arabic's Most Untranslatable Words & Expressions

Image
This piece was dug up from my archives! Originally appearing on Beirut.com some four years ago, it remains one of my favorite compilations, and I have thus reproduced it here.
Arabic is one of the most artistic and complex languages in the world. In fact, some of its words and phrases are so lush with imagery and meaning that they bear no equivalent in any other language. Nuances and undertones inevitably get lost in translation, and rich idiomatic expressions are butchered altogether.
Join me on a linguistic tour of Arabic’s most untranslatable and lyrical words, expressions, and sayings. Don’t trouble yourself trying to unravel them to a non-speaker—just have pride in being part of something precious!

To2borneh or to2brineh: literally, it means “you bury me,” and the first thought that springs to mind is deeply troubling. But the connotative punch this word packs is absolutely beautiful. You love someone so much that you can’t imagine a life without them, and you’re hoping you pass awa…

Zaatar W Zeit's New "Super-Natural Green" Wrap

Image
The riddle has been solved. The puzzle is now complete.
Who and what were behind the enigmatic green Superman logo encasing a three-leaf bouquet?
Lebanon’s famous restaurant chain Zaatar W Zeit owned up to the teaser. Last night, in an exclusive event at its ABC Dbayeh stronghold that beckoned a roster of social media foodie influencers, the brand tied all the loose ends by debuting a new “super-natural” wrap boasting spinach flatbread. Donning the color of lushness and fertility, the wrap happens to coincide with ZWZ’s signature hue – green.



The spinach wrap is something novel to the Lebanese food world, but in a global context, spinach flour, and spinach pasta for that matter, have been around for ages. While the wrap doesn’t really evoke the flavors of Popeye’s favorite vegetable, an unmistakable suppleness is imparted to the carb envelope, and you wolf it down confident that it’s healthier than its refined flour counterpart.
So what’s inside? I found it to be classic ZWZ: cubes of roa…

Support Local: All-Natural Peanut Butter at a Bargain

Image
If you’ve ever made it as far as the “About Me” section on my blog, you know I prefer peanut butter to Nutella. Yes, to the great grief of many a pure-blooded Lebanese, I much favor my spread nutty than chocolaty. It just packs in an uncharacteristic boldness, a certain oomph, that easily trumps its cocoa-derivative counterpart.

And it seems that peanut butter is finally getting more credit than in days past, when it was dismissed as junk food in a jar. Granted, a vast number of commercial peanut butters were (and remain) guilty of listing sugar as the second major constituent. As a result, peanut butter tasted suspiciously sweet, which can be unpalatable to folks generally associating the salty flavor with nuts.
With heightened consciousness surrounding what we eat and the public’s desire to consume “real food,” peanut butter has undergone a total makeover, in some cases chucking sugar altogether and in others, substituting in molasses. The results are irresistible, and foodies the wor…

The Limited Edition Raclette Burger from Crepaway

Image
Georges seated us at a table along the glass railing, overlooking the hustle and bustle of the mall, and proceeded to hand us the large Crepaway menus.

“We’re here for the Raclette burgers,” I announced, gently declining the menu and requesting a Perrier.
“Ok, I’ll be right back with your order,” replied Georges, peering at me intently before inquiring whether we were bloggers.
“Uh, yes,” I conceded. “I’m Beirutista.”
“Ooh, so does that mean I’ll be featured on your blog?”
The burgers, dear boy!
Within a scant few minutes, and I do mean minutes, two runners arrived with salvers balancing open-faced burgers. Supple, poppy-seed bun slathered with a lick of special sauce. Grilled Angus beef patty. Pan-fried hash brown. Crisp lettuce. Juicy tomato. And the pièce de résistance: a thick sheet of molten Raclette cheese slowly sliding off a metal tray and onto the beef.



Crown the tower with the top bun and go at it cautiously. It’s a high-rise, subject to toppling if you don’t clutch it properly. I…

A Swanky Sunday Brunch at Kempinski Summerland Hotel

Image
Even the road leading there feels distinctly un-Lebanese: wide, serene, evenly paved, with residential high-rises spaced noticeably apart for breathability. You’d never know you were mere miles from Beirut International Airport to the south and Pigeon Rock to the north.

The Kempinski Summerland Hotel & Resort beautifully embodies its descriptor. Featuring its own private beach and marina, the hotel is defined by a maze of pools and secluded Jacuzzi bungalows. As we passed through the main gate and descended toward the complex, images of Kassandra in northern Greece – specifically the Miraggio Thermal Spa Resort – cascaded through my mind with longing and nostalgia.
Beirut’s newest five-star property perches on the Mediterranean as prominently as the Manara Lighthouse, boasting 153 rooms and suites designed to exploit the breathtaking views of the sea. There’s a venue for every breed of guest, from a Cigar and Single Malt lounge for the stogie-whisky aficionado, to a gourmet restaura…

Up Close & Personal with Wesley’s Wholesale

Image
I recently sat down with Farrah Berrou, Creative Strategist at Wesley’s Wholesale, a major Lebanese wholesaler of American products with a flagship store in Jnah and a massive three-story stronghold in Hazmieh.

Wesley's is owned and operated by the Berrou family, who transplanted from Southern California to Beirut more than a decade ago and yearned to import the American shopping experience with them.



DI. When and where was Wesley’s Wholesale incorporated? Who is it run by? How many staff members are there? Is it an international enterprise?
FB. As a family, we've been in imports since 2005, but Wesley’s as a brand didn't come to life until 2013. We decided to rebrand and restructure our concept as an American grocery megastore similar to the big-box stores of the US while also paying tribute to my late uncle Wesley, who passed away a few years before. Between sales staff and management, we’re about 40 people involved in the day-to-day, but the purchasing & procurement is…