Posts Tagged ‘food’


As a follow-up to my post, A Tale of Two Cities, I have decided to put together a list of things I’ve learned from all the time I’ve spent in Jeddah. I was supposed to publish this post earlier but then decided that since I’m going back to Beirut in a matter of days, now would be the perfect time. I hope you enjoy reading this list as much as I have putting it together. Here it goes!

Al Baik

Al Baik's Logo

  1. Food, no matter where you get it from, is always great tasting. I’m most partial to Al-Baik, a broasted chicken chain that is deeply associated with Jeddah AND is incredibly delicious.
  1. Wearing the Abayya is not as bad as it sounds. First, you wouldn’t feel like an outsider. Second, you can wear one that’s colorful so you don’t have to worry about conformity. Third, since it covers all your clothes, you don’t have to dress to the nines every time you go out.
  2. Sleeping when the sun comes up is perfectly normal even when you have work in a matter of hours. Day and night have been truly redefined.
  3. Arabic is not the official language, contrary to popular belief. Asian expats don’t speak Arabic, Arab expats have a difficult time understanding different dialects and the locals will only speak in their distinct dialect.
  4. The sheer organization of taxis in this country makes me actually miss the chaos that is Lebanese “service”s.
  5. We’re in the second decade of the 3rd millennium and women still don’t drive, and things don’t seem to be looking up. (more…)

Going to restaurants used to be fun. It was all about trying out new foods and enjoying the company of whoever you happened to be dining with.
Now, and especially with the massive tourist influx, the fundamentals of dining out includes a bunch of waiting: to be seated, for the waiter to take your order, for the food to arrive, and finally for the bill and the change.
First there was the World Cup frenzy. For those who are unaware, during that month, it was impossible to dine out without having to pay some sort of entrance plus combo fee at even the tiniest of restaurants. Add to that the already expensive prices and the above-mentioned waiting, and you’ve gotten yourself an experience for the ages.
But that’s nothing in comparison to the waiters declining to serve you, because apparently the entire premise is fully booked, when in reality, it’s just a sea of empty chairs. The pathetic excuse they present is normally along the lines of “Oh, but they’re expected in an hour, and we don’t want to rush your dining so you can enjoy it” which in my opinion, roughly translates to, “In one hour, you won’t even have the chance to look at your plate because we’re going to be procrastinating as much as possible before you get your order.”
Call me a cynic, but it has happened before, and on countless occasions.
And now that the tourists are here, we Lebanese are second-class citizens to our own countrymen.
Which is something I don’t understand.
Do they really think that the foreigners, who would rather save every cent of their money, tip more than the citizens? Or do they think that by paying them more attention then more positive things would be said about the place?
I beg to differ.
Consider this as a real-life situation. You go to a very popular restaurant chain and decide to order the chocolat mou. This is a fairly simple dish to prepare as all it requires is scooping out the ice cream into a glass and topping it off with whipped cream and chocolate sauce. It could be done at home if the ingredients are available.
But no.
At this popular place, that very same order takes around 30 minutes to arrive. And when it does, all the waiter could say to excuse himself was that they were having a busy night and everyone was ordering deserts. The dish wasn’t even that good!
Restaurants are supposed to be a place where only utter courtesy comes into play. They are not supposed to be a place where people are scammed off thanks to low-quality food and horrible service. They are not supposed to be a place where costumers consider the waiters to be subordinates either.
They are supposed to be a place where people can come together to focus on the most important aspect: the food.
Plus, in a country where recreational facilities are oh-so very limited, taking our families out to eat on weekends has become some sort of ritual.
Well, if things keep going the way they are, that’s yet another ritual we’re going to have to kiss goodbye.
And if things keep getting worse, we may even have to kiss the tourists goodbye.
Don’t get me wrong, I happen to have an immense respect for people in this profession and a complete understanding for how tiresome their jobs can be. But it is not up to them to decide who to and not to serve. And it is certainly not understandable when they chose to do so.
But then again, this is Lebanon, where anything goes, and where laws are just words thrown around to appear to sound fancy.
As long as the law is not clear-cut and protecting us, we are always going to fall victim to our own terrible actions and remain stuck in this utter state of chaos.