A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

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

the post-workout shwarma

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on February 14, 2009

We East Coasters have a three-day weekend in honor of Presidents’ Day, which is Monday. This wasn’t a holiday celebrated in the Midwest, for some reason. I remember asking my father, a native Bostonian, once as to why we didn’t celebrate Presidents’ Day in Iowa. We’re just more patriotic on the East Coast, was his tongue-in-cheek reply.

And since I am now in more patriotic parts, I decided to celebrate the holiday with a visit to A and our nation’s capital.

D.C. is much different from New York. For one thing, there seems to be much more sky here, courtesy of building laws that limit building heights. For another, the neighborhood food options – at least where A. lives – are a far cry from mine.

I feel like having a snack, A said as we walked back from a morning workout.

Mmmm, I said, surveying the street to see what portable, tasty options might be for sale at 10:00 on a Saturday morning. Where are the delis? I wondered to myself.

And then I saw a sure-fire option, one that would remind A. of many years spent in the Middle East.

How about a nice post-workout schwarma? I asked brightly.

How about we pretend not to know one another? A replied.

Sigh. As a vegetarian, what do I know about the eating habits of gym-going carnivores?

I do know where I am going for lunch today – a chance to reconnect at long last with J, another relocated American from Beirut. Its a Turkish restaurant that J likes – yum! – and appropriately enough, its motto is:

Mediterreanean bounty, beauty, and modernity.

Sigh, again. What a motto. If I were a pop psychologist, I would have a field day.

The “Mediterranean bounty” I can understand as a term to draw in foodies – after all, it sounds much more culinarily tempting than “Asiatic steppelands”.

And the “beauty” I can understand – with eye rolls – in much the same way that I could understand if a Lebanese restaurant put “beauty” in its motto. The bella figura impulse definitely seems to have made its way around the Mediterranean.

As for “modernity” – oh, you poor Turks. So much energy – first Ottoman, then Turkish – has been expended in trying to “prove” to Europe that Turks are modern.

No one “owns” modernity – not the French, not the British, not the Americans, not anyone. But the Mediterranean world definitely owns meze, and I am looking forward to lunch.

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