A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

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

Archive for the ‘dairy’ Category

bulls gone wild

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on August 20, 2008

I’m de-fragging the computer that hosts our office’s shared files, and there’s not much work I can do until it finishes. Thank goodness for Naharnet, which is reporting on a major, crisis-inducing Resolution 1701 violation – an attack Israeli bull:

A bull which had infiltrated Lebanese territory from Israel has attacked Spanish peacekeepers and headbutted their vehicles before being shot dead, An Nahar daily reported Wednesday. It said the UNIFIL troops were erecting an electric barbed wire to prevent Israeli cows from entering Lebanese territory at the Baathaeel pond when Israeli soldiers unleashed the wild bull on the peacekeepers.

A Spanish soldier shot the bull dead after it ran towards the U.N. troops and began headbutting their vehicles, the newspaper said.

The peacekeepers then buried the bull and continued their work to erect the wire, which according to An Nahar, it has stopped the infiltration of Israeli cows to the pond area.

I’m dying laughing at the idea of a bull “infiltrating” enemy territory, not to mention the accusation that the IDF “unleashed” it on UNIFIL. Can’t you just imagine the discussion in Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s office?

We couldn’t get Hizbullah to surrender when we used our F16s, and we couldn’t get them to surrender when we tried a land invasion – but by God, we will get them to surrender to our attack bull.

Given that the Israeli government is currently threatening to target “the entire Lebanese state” (not to mention “all the Lebanese” people) if it “legitimizes” Hizbullah, I think that it is planning something more than a livestock invasion.

As for the poor UNIFIL soldiers who had to first defend themselves from attack and then bury the bull, my heart goes out to them. I’m sure that many days in Lebanon are a bit surreal for them – but today must have reached a new level.


Posted in animals, Arab world, Beirut, dairy, espionage, humor, Israel, Lebanon, media, neighbors, politics, UNIFIL, words | 2 Comments »

squeaky cheese – coming to a grocery near you

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on April 28, 2008

H and I have made the decision to return to the US this summer. As we contemplate our “re-entry”, I have been tallying up what I will miss about Lebanon and what we look forward to about being in the states for a while.

Thanks to a stop at Whole Foods the other day with my parents, I no longer have to worry about missing my favorite cheese

Well, it does say Cyprus, but the two countries are such kissing cousins anyway that I’m sure it will taste fine. Can you hear me squeaking all the way from New England 🙂 ?

Posted in Americans, Beirut, dairy, food, Lebanon, travel | 4 Comments »

stocking the fridge with food and … shampoo

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on February 9, 2008

I have a food shortage anxiety, H said to me the other day.

I looked at him, confused.

I mean I don’t like to go to bed without food in the refrigerator, he explained. I think: what happens if I’m going to bed, and I’m a little bit hungry, and as I lie in bed I get hungrier, and then I can’t sleep, and there is nothing to eat?

I made sympathetic “of course, I understand perfectly” noises, but inside I thought: thank goodness H doesn’t rely on the contents of my refrigerator for his off-to-dreamland bedtime snacks.

My refrigerator isn’t likely to assuage anyone’s food anxieties: aside from milk, yogurt, tofu and peanut sauce, its fairly lacking in edibles.

But if you’re having a shampoo crisis, a nail polish shortage, or emergency lotion needs, you’ve come to the right place.

Here’s an overview photo:


Notice the ratio of food items to beauty items? H would die of starvation anxiety.

(And please don’t read “exciting party girl diamond” into that bottle of wine. Its been sitting in my refrigerator since last March. Yes, that’s how much I drink.)

For those looking more for a visual feast than an actual one, allow me to give you a more detailed tour.

Here’s a close-up of the nail polish section, in case your manicure is chipping or you are looking for new colors:


I learned to store nail polish in my refrigerator from C, a college friend who now runs a successful artisanal jam-making outfit in San Francisco.

And I learned to store lotions-&-potions beauty products in the refrigerator from another friend named C, during a long hot summer in Fes, Morocco. If you’re blonde, like to remove your eye makeup at night, or insist on using lotion with sun protection, my bottom row collection is for you:


Needless to say, my refrigerator elicits comments from everyone who opens its door, including my cleaning lady. I’m sure that its been used in a funny-foreigners story or two – but that’s fine.

At least I know that I will never have the beauty equivalent of a food shortage anxiety. If I go to bed and my toenail polish is a little bit chipped, or my toothpaste tube is getting empty, no worries will keep me awake. I know I’ll be able to take care of the problem in the morning, just by going to the kitchen and opening my refrigerator door.

Posted in Americans, Beirut, dairy, food, home | 5 Comments »

milking it

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on January 7, 2008

Its been a long day, and I have no insights (or even funny stories) to share. I’m going to turn off my laptop and open up Said Aburish’s Beirut Spy: International Intrigue at the St. George Hotel Bar. The copy I found looks like it survived several rain showers (its a Beirut-based copy, so its not impossible), but the pages all open and there’s an intriguingly long photo section in the middle.

According to the frontispiece,

Much of the Middle East’s complex post-war history as made and unmade in the St. George Hotel bar. … Said Aburish reveals the intrigues and conspiracies, stretching over a quarter of a century, that shaped contemporary Middle Eastern – and indeed world – politics. The name of the game was reporting, exploiting, manipulating and controlling events, and the intricacy of the plots and counterplots hatched in the bar surpassed any thriller writer’s most improbable invention.

Well, as I type I realize that the description sounds a bit over-wrought – and four gerunds is a long name for any game. But its a cold night in Beirut and I’m looking forward to a little light reading before I turn in.

And meanwhile I’m pondering another mystery (plot? counterplot?) of my own. Silhouette, my favorite milk brand, disappeared from Beirut’s grocery shelves in mid-fall. None of my usual grocery stores were carrying it – and all were suddenly stocking Taanayel, a Bekaa-based dairy. I don’t mind Taanayel, and I do like to buy local, but its packaging is less sophisticated, and I’ve purchased several spoiled containers.

When I returned to Beirut after the holidays, Silhouette was back on every shelf – in massive quantities.

I suspect that the holder of the concession to import Silhouette irritated someone with a connection in the Customs office. Does anyone know why the brand disappeared? I’m certainly not complaining – I’ve stocked up! – but I am curious :).

Posted in Beirut, dairy, economics, food, Lebanon | 2 Comments »

public piety i: Sunnis in Beirut

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on July 15, 2007

On Friday afternoon I made an end-of-week dairy run to the house of moo, as I am coming to think of my local ba2ala.


As I made my usual “what would I buy if I were a more inventive cook” perusal of its two aisles, I noticed something new in between the mayonnaise (for a small shop, it carries quite a mayonnaise selection) and the canned goods: a Qur’an.


It wasn’t stacked flat or set down as if someone had been interrupted while reading; it was placed vertically, with the front cover facing out. Leaving the mayonnaise and the canned artichokes to their own devices, I kept on walking. I have no objection to the shopkeepers’ decision to display their Qur’an on the shelves – after all, I have fond memories of the phrase I have seen on the backs of many Damascus cabs: “Don’t forget to mention God”. But its perch looks a bit precarious to me, and I definitely do not want to be known in my neighborhood as that insensitive foreign woman who knocked the Qur’an to the floor.

Posted in Americans, Arab world, art, Beirut, dairy, food, Islam, Lebanon, media, photography, religion, Sharjah, shipping, time, travel, women, words | Leave a Comment »

bovine shopping & artistic license

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on July 8, 2007

For the past few hours I have been working away on things domestic and things professional, and anticipate capping off this afternoon of excitement with a trip to my local ba2ala, “mini-grocery”, for some kleenex.

In an earlier stage of Arabic study I used to mistakenly refer to the ba2ala as ba2ara, “cow”. No jokes about Asian r’s and l’s, please, or about my Midwestern roots – the mistake was utterly my own, and it was a strange one. Not only is that crucial third consonant different, but ba2ala has a long second “a”, while ba2ara’s vowels are all short.

On the other hand my most frequent purchases there are milk and yogurt, so perhaps my sub-conscious mind does see “grocery” and think “moooooooo”.

In between bouts of productivity I discovered the “contrast” feature on my photo editor. This is a little slice of Bliss Street, taken last month after a strange summer rain, with the photograph’s contrast heightened by 25%.


It could have been taken today – Beirut’s streets are always quiet on Sundays, and never more so than during the summer, when the heat and the siren call of the beach empties the city of its usual traffic.

Posted in Americans, animals, Arabic, art, Beirut, dairy, Iowa, kleenex, Lebanon, photography, time, vanity, words | 2 Comments »