Hungry for Vegan Goodness in Beirut? Look No Further.

Dining in Lebanon often feels like the scene right out of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” where Aunt Voula is stunned speechless to learn Toula’s fiancé is vegetarian. “What do you mean you don’t eat no meat?” she demands, brows arched. Seconds later, her face breaks into a wide grin as she resolves, “That’s ok. I make lamb.”

Our Mediterranean cuisine is a marvelous cornucopia of fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices. But at the same time, you can’t sit down to a Lebanese mezza without encountering at least three types of meat. Fast food revolves around shawarma – meat shaved off of a skewer – as well as lamb kabobs and chicken taouk wraps. Vegetarian, and its more extreme cousin vegan, is an austere regimen strictly reserved for the Lenten season.
Understandably, it’s a challenge finding healthy, nourishing vegan food at grocery stores across Beirut. I’m not talking about produce, beans, legumes, and seeds, though admittedly those do constitute a vegan lifestyle. We live in the 21st ce…

Six Reasons Summer in Lebanon Can Be God-Awful

“Summertime is always the best of what might be,” wrote Charles Bowden, American author and journalist. F. Scott Fitzgerald postulated that life begins “over again with the summer.” And William Shakespeare, in one of his sonnets, attempted to compare woman’s beauty to “a summer’s day.”

Clearly, they’d never experienced summer in Lebanon. Sure, it’s the season of reunions, as relatives and friends pour in from overseas. The air is laced with love, weddings dotting every hour of every day and every week. And nature’s finest fruit – watermelon, cherries, and peaches – offer themselves liberally unto us.

But that’s where the fun and frolic end. Here are six reasons why I can’t stand summers around these Mediterranean parts.

The heat. It gets ridiculously hot in Lebanon, from the seashore to the mountainside, in city dwellings to remote village abodes. For more than four months, the air is thick with humidity, and antiperspirant sticks can't fend it off. Just accept that you’ll have disgu…

Massive July 4th Sale at Wesley’s Wholesale

What does it mean to be an American? What are some of the ideals cherished by the so-called Land of Opportunity?

Let’s rewind a bit, 242 years to be exact. On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was ratified by the forefathers of the United States of America, proclaiming that “all men are created equal” and that they are endowed with inalienable rights among which are “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
These premises form the basis of the American dream, the profound belief that everyone has the opportunity to prosper and succeed, regardless of social class or circumstances of birth. Every year on July 4th, Americans celebrate Independence Day and more importantly a moral standard to which the United States should strive. This year will be no exception (even if POTUS’ questionable policies are in blatant contempt of the American dream. The system will eventually correct itself, right?!)
In happy tribute to America’s most reverenced holiday, Wesley’s Wholesale – a mic…

What I'm Reading: "Harness Your Creativity" by Nadia Tabbara

I’d heard about writer and creativity coach Nadia Tabbara some time ago. Anyone in Beirut who dabbles in writing has probably come across her name, as she heads a space called FADE IN: to educate aspiring writers on the creative process. Beyond that, Nadia is a professional screenwriter who’s worked on famous Hollywood productions including “Step Up 3D” and “The Adjustment Bureau.”
What I didn’t know is that Nadia and I share a bit in common, namely our American upbringing. In fact, we were both denizens of Boston, though not contemporaneously. She graduated from Emerson College in 2005; I, from MIT, in 2009. We both made the dramatic decision to move to Lebanon in 2011, citing a raw hunger to experience our ancestral home.
In her new book Harness Your Creativity, published last month by Turning Point Books, Nadia articulates that yearning ever so eloquently: “A big part of the creative process is learning how to follow a whisper until it turns into a thought, then an idea, and finally…

“On Your Way” Brings the Amazon Shopping Experience to Lebanon

One of the things I miss most about living in the US is More than merely a marketplace, it’s a treasure trove that sells absolutely everything under the sun (and then some). 

I’m not exaggerating. I used to skip the university bookstore, buying (and selling) ALL of my college textbooks via Amazon. Last Christmas, I stumbled across gorgeous Ivanka Trump navy blue pumps at a steal…on Amazon. Every perfume I have ever procured, from my very first bottle of Burberry Brit back in grad school, was through Amazon. Most recently, my son Stephen’s play pen, stroller, bottle sterilizer, bottle warmer, and organic bamboo bath towel were unearthed…on Amazon.
Yes, folks. Amazon is life, and nowhere do you appreciate its existence more than in Lebanon, where it is nonexistent. Here, if you come across an imported product, particularly clothing or electronics, it’s substantially marked up (been to Virgin Megastore recently?). Quite often, too, you won’t even find what you’re looking for. W…

Baby Stephen's Baptism

In Lebanon, sacramental events like baptism, first Holy Communion, and marriage can easily spiral into lavish affairs. Lebanese love to celebrate big, and that kind of festive spirit extends even to deeply religious occasions. Modesty is rarely the motif!

Contrarily, my husband and I tend to be understated in our approach. Two weeks ago, we baptized our seven-month-old son Stephen in the presence of an intimate few. The ceremony was beautiful and symbolic; the lunch reception following it, chic and idyllic; and the keepsakes, lovingly handcrafted with ornate detail. If I were to describe the day in two words, it would be elegant subtlety, and we wanted Stephen’s first sacrament to embody that.

The Ceremony
St. Paul’s Basilica in Harissa holds monumental significance to our family. It was where Jimmy and I united in holy matrimony over three and a half years ago. It was the church in which Jimmy himself was baptized some three decades ago. And it is where we wished to christen our firstbo…