A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

a national unity cuisine

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on January 20, 2008

Lebanon’s opposition coalition (which confusingly seems to have the majority of Lebanon’s population behind it, as opposed to the officially termed majority coalition, which has the majority of Western governments behind it) has been calling for a national unity government for some time.

Personally, I think Lebanese politicians’ constant harping on consensus and unity as the basis for a government is almost as counter-productive as having no government at all. Debate, dialogue, agreeing to disagree – these are the ways to air differences, and move beyond them. Instead, political figures here insist on unity out of one side of their mouths while denigrating the characters of their opponents from the other.

Anyway. The national unity government, whether intended to last fifteen minutes or two years, has yet to materialize. But I am seeing what looks suspiciously like the formation of a national unity cuisine – or perhaps more accurately: a national unity palate.

Ethnic restaurants seem to be disappearing from the Beirut dining scene. With the exception of a new Thai place in Achrafieh that F mentioned yesterday (and yes, we are definitely going there soon!), city tastebuds appear to have lost their interest in flavor.

Taj Mahal is gone from Achrafieh.

Sirena is gone from Manara.

Thai is gone, also from Achrafieh.

And H sms’ed me this morning to say that Isfahan, our favorite (okay, our only) Iranian place, located in … well … you can imagine where … has closed as well.

Don’t get me wrong – I love Arabic food, and I love Italian food (which seems to have captured the global market on non-ethnic, i.e. universally acceptable, ethnic cuisine). And I really liked the spicy molten feta that H’s friends suggested I try last night over vino rojo y un concierto de salsa.

But I miss flavor when I am here. I miss peanut sauces; I miss moles. And much as I love a good tabbouleh, I think that Beirutis are the poorer for closing their mouths to the world’s cuisines. There is far more to Sunday lunch than escalope and gratin d’artichaut, or burgers and fries.

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One Response to “a national unity cuisine”

  1. […] a national unity cuisine […]

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