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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Praise God and pass the food



In the old Beiruti accent it is Basseym and not Bassam, and Basseym is an old Beiruti because when he invoked the name of God at the instant he reached into the bowl of fava beans to prepare a customer's meal he would say: "bismIlleh" or in the name of God.

I noticed this the first time I walked into his little reataurant off of Sidani Street in Ras Beirut. I was the first customer of the day and aching for a sa7en foul, or a plate of fava beans with "service" of raw onions, a fresh sprig of mint, olives, pickles, tomatoes, radishes and a large
loaf of pita bread. I asked for some hot green peppers too. Those you get only by asking for them.

I watched Basseym as he prepared my food and true to form .. "bismIlleh" as he scooped away my foul. I smiled; this is the piece of culture a tourist would certainly miss out on. It is refreshing to see and sample, not only the food he was making but a taste of Beirut, the little things people do that go unnoticed, even by locals. Sure this, invoking God's name with every scoop, is rare but hence its beauty.

Basseym bissami 2ism Allah each time he scoops away some foul or hummos. He told me so when I asked him. "Bissami" is when one mentions God's name as one embarks on a certain action, like saying: "in the name of God".

A week or so went by and I stopped by Basseym's to have lunch this time and take a couple of pictures. The place, unlike that early morning days earlier, was very busy. So, I patiently waited until things slowed down a bit and asked Basseym if I could take some pictures and ordered some food. I also added:"3ala fikra, ma smi3tak t2ool "bismIlleh" " (by the way, I did not hear you say "bismIlleh" ). Basseym replied that he's been saying it all along but maybe I did not hear him, but now I could hear him say it loud and clear :)

simon sakkab

1 comment:

  1. I like it! I like your writing Simon. Although they are somehow familiar, the pictures, smells, and sounds within this article are amazing.

    Sameh Khalaf