mana’eesh: breakfast of champions

This post is a tribute to mana’eesh (or manaqeesh, to spell it out properly: the Lebanese drop the q because why wouldn’t you?). It’s a lovely flatbread dish made to order and stuffed with toppings of your choice – traditionally zaatar, an aromatic blend of oregano and thyme like dried herbs that I’ve referenced before – but you can also add cheese, olives, or tomatoes. They’re typically made to order right in front of you, so they’re fresh and delicious.

perfection, with or without the qaf

I used to grab one every morning on the way to school. It was the perfect breakfast to clutch and nibble on with one hand while writing up my students’ warmup exercise on the board with the other. But then Ramadan began, and because the community was fasting from dawn till dusk, the bakeries were closed in the morning (and in any case one would feel a little tacky buying a food meant to be eaten straight out of the oven at the beginning of a fasting day). I resigned myself to mana’eesh-less days: the show goes on, even without delicious flatbreads.

But then! I moved to Geitowi, a charming neighborhood in East Beirut (n.b: it’s a far cry from the camps, but the power still goes out for indeterminate lengths of time, we quickly learned). We also realized that being run by Christians and catering to a non-fasting Christian clientele, the mana’eesh place is, of course, open in the mornings!

1. fold in half 2. eat

Ode to Achrafieh Mana’eesh

You fed me every morning
You fed me every day
Until the start of Ramadan
When I had to stay away

The bakery was shut
Until iftar began
And without my mana’eesh each day
My face was looking wan.

But hamdullah! I moved
To a flat in East Beirut
The neighborhood is Christian
And its diet follows suit

I now rejoice that every morn
I may pop down the street
And give offense to no one
Whilst my mana’eesh I eat!

2 thoughts on “mana’eesh: breakfast of champions

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s