Fast food Experience: Markeziah Snack; Gellas St, Downtown. Beirut

Through a perpetual inability to buy cereal or bread for the house, I sample the delights of Markeziah Snack between 4.5 – 5 mornings per week. The café operates what feels like a Groundhog Day level of efficiency in terms of service. My daily visit invariably follows this order of events…

Enter the café at around 08:58, the staff are all busy in their regular positions. To the left behind the desk is The Matriarch. As always she will smile and ask sweetly ‘Wahad Jubne?’ (one cheese manu’she?). Following my nod she will then scream at full volume ‘WAHAD JUBNE!’ in the direction of the kitchen staff approximately 2 feet away from her.

The kitchen staff are waltzing around each other, flipping ingredients onto the grill, sliding things into the oven, throwing sandwiches into bags. After handing over my receipt in time with their synchronised rhythm, I usually gaze across at the pizza oven…

But the massive furnace with its rows of flame spanning either side always reminds me of a crematorium, and then I START THINKING ABOUT DEATH AND ETERNITY AND FREAKING OUT BUT IT’S OK BECAUSE CRAZY OLD MAN IS HERE TO DISTRACT ME.

Crazy old man must be the owner because he never does any work and generally stands around and shouts at everyone with a voice of gravel and broken glass and decades of the high tar cigarettes. I once asked him about the flavour of a particular sandwich. Instead of answering he just ran upstairs to the kitchen and returned with an enormous bouquet of coriander. ‘This flavour!’ he shouted, before stuffing the plant into his mouth. I like him the best.

Before I leave the matriarch will ask me, in a voice even sweeter than before, ‘Wahad Pepsi?’. Before I can reply she will scream ‘WAHAD PEPSI!’ at the boy who hangs around by the juice fridge and he will scuttle about looking for a straw for me to drink it with. I will tell him I don’t want a straw but he will give me one anyway.

 Breakfast for 1:                                                                                          WAHAD JUBNE 2500ll                                                                              WAHAD PEPSI 1000ll                                                                                TOTAL: 3500LL

by Beirut Beat

 

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