A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

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

the sajj-maker of D.C.

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on February 18, 2009

On Sunday, A and I met M and two other friends for lunch at one of the several Lebanese Tavernas that pepper the D.C. metropolitan area.

Are you two going to be alright here? M asked kindly. M lived in Italy for several years, so she knows what it is like to face Americanized interpretations of cuisines one knows in their local forms.

Don’t worry about us, I said cheerfully. We’ll be fine.

And we were, at least until I discovered “Camel Wings” on the menu. There are no camels in Lebanon – well, except for the camel-for-tourists stationed outside Moussa’s Castle. But Americans know that the Middle East has camels, so I guess at some point the Lebanese owners of the Lebanese Taverna decided to put “camel wings” (i.e., buffalo wings) on their menus.

And we were okay again, until A discovered the mana2ish – or “Lebanese-style pizza”, as the menu describes them.

How much would you pay for a man2oushe? A stage-whispered to me from behind the menu.

Depends on the topping, I said.

How about $7.50 for a man2oushe with zaatar? A asked.

Good God. In my neighborhood, the street mana2eesh were sold for 750LL each, or about 50 cents. At Zaatar w Zeit, I think they were more like 1,750, or $2.16.

Sticker shock led me to revisit something A had mentioned earlier during my visit: that his mother had recently sent him a crepe-maker.

When am I ever going to make a crepe? A asked, showing the gadget to me.

As we looked at it, we realized that this was no ordinary crepe-maker. This was a potential sajj-maker, man2ouche-maker, and even mar2ou2-maker, all rolled into one.


At $7.50 per man2oushe, A could have an incredibly lucrative second job as the neighborhood sajjci. Even at $5 per man2oushe, if A worked for two hours and made twenty man2ouche per hour, that’s $200. (If a Beirut sajjci made the same number, that’s 2*20*$.50=$20.)

Nice work, if you can get it – or if your loving mother sends you the fruits of her kitchen shopping 🙂 .


2 Responses to “the sajj-maker of D.C.”

  1. Jenifer Pereira said

    I read your bit about Manoushe. I think overhead may be a little more @ the Taverna.
    If it sold for .50 or even $2.00, the Taverna would have closed long ago.
    I am happy to spend the $7.50. It’s yummy and I love the atmosphere.
    The Lebanese Taverna is my favorite place 🙂

  2. intlxpatr said

    LOL – I think you have to grow up knowing the hand action for some of those breads, but it might be fun to give it a try! I adore saj, and I will miss it terribly when I can no longer get it.

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