fish for a day: lunch in Jbeil
Posted by adiamondinsunlight on November 11, 2007
I feel like getting out of the city this weekend, M said to me earlier this week.
If I said this, it would be one of those “wouldn’t it be nice to …” idle statements – but M has wheels. Excellent, I said. Where shall we go?
Sundays in Lebanon are devoted to big family lunches – long leisurely gatherings at home or out that anchor the weekend. As someone with no family here, I often feel lonely on Sundays (unless Charles Malik is willing to meet at Kababji, or G comes into the city). So planning a Sunday lunch out of town sounded perfect to me.
Jbeil (also known as Byblos) is a beautiful little town 45 minutes north of Beirut, known for its beaches, its Roman ruins, and its fish restaurants.
Of course, its winter now, and the beaches and some of the fish restaurants are closed for the season. But that was fine – we aren’t a Lebanese family, and we weren’t looking for a “typical Lebanese” meal. We decided to lunch at El Molino, Lebanon’s only real American Mexican (i.e., Tex-Mex) restaurant.
The salsa could have been a bit hotter, and I missed the oh-so-traditional-Mexican “Mariachi Burrito” I order at Las Brisas, but the chips were crisp and the fajitas were sizzling, and the company – eight friends divided between two cars and one taxi – could not have been better.
We walked around the harbor a bit after leaving the restaurant – or rather, drifted slowly down from the restaurant, engrossed in various conversations and ignoring the impatient drivers honking at us to move to the side of the narrow harbor-front road.
As we stood chatting, I noticed a large … antenna? could it be? bobbing gently on the other side of the jetty.
The antenna soon revealed itself as the fishing rod of a local fisherman, intently moving from one spot on the jetty to another.
We moved slowly around the harbor and I forgot about the fisherman until H pointed out the stunning sunset, with the sun spilling onto the water as it sank.
Sadly, the photos I took of the sunset turned out to be utterly pedestrian, but I did find my fisherman again.
Its been difficult for Lebanon’s fishermen since the July War. The polluted waters mean fewer fish, or at least fewer edible fish, and the political instability has meant crackdowns on boat fishing and dynamite fishing (environmentally unfriendly, but lucrative for men who must feed their families on the few hundred dollars they earn each month). I hope this man goes home tonight with a decent catch.