Beirut is as well-known for its chaotic nature as it is for the sweet taste of its cuisine. Truly standing the test of time is the staple of every Lebanese diet: the man'ouché. A leavened dough-like pocket containing just about everything from Akkawi cheese to zaatar, it tastes magical and anyone can afford it. The most entertaining aspect of a man'ouché trip is definitely having to deal with the characters behind the counter, so here is a list of Beirut's five stereotypical man'ouché makers.

1. The Hajj

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Think sweet, old man who reminds you of a typical Geddo, what with his gentle nature and interspersed "habibis." He's known you since you were too short to reach the counter and chances are he's the one who'll be handing your kids their first man'ouché. His little 'foron' has been a staple of the neighborhood just as much as he has, knowing the ins and outs of every house on your street. Reminds you of simpler days when 750 LL bought you breakfast and Bonjus. His man'ouchés are Mona Lisa's and his arithmetic is a little rusty, or maybe he meant to give you fifteen croissants for the price of a dozen.

2. The Hajjé

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Sometimes found to be the Hajj's sidekick; the Teta to his Geddo. You'll never find her without her trademark smile and the daily invitation of a cup of tea plus incessant prodding about when you'll get married. She's adopted all the youth of the neighborhood and is known for being the farthest thing from a miser, as her stuffed man'ouchés will attest. Once you're back from abroad, she's likely to be the second person you visit after your mother.

3. The 3am

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Gruff post-middle-aged man who's perennially complaining about the wadi3 and how the country's constantly going to hell. Not the nicest fellow on the block, and maybe if it wasn't for his penny-pinching habit of sprinkling zaatar like it was gold flakes you'd like him more. Spends about 75% of his time picking at his teeth hoping to dislodge the meat bits stuck since last night's feast. He's secretly a nice guy that's been on the wrong side of life but don't take it from me, ask him how his day's going and prepare to get a not-so-brief history of Lebanon.

4. The Shabeb

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Literally the new kids on the block. They care not for tradition or quality, just the quick buck. They tried to bring the man'ouch business to the 21st century with WhatsApp ordering and scooter delivery, but were too busy watching football on their built-in oven-TV to answer your texts in the middle of the night. Unlike the Hajj and Hajjé, they're night owls, rising once the sun sets and spending the night drifting in the alleys of Beirut. Unlikely to give you anything close to a real bite, but their rubbery cheese is soon forgotten as they violently argue how Nejmeh got cheated out of the championship.

5. The Mat3am

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Pretty far down the man'ouché food chain you'll find the pinky-lifting classy restaurants battling out for the upper-class customers craving a taste of home. Don't be surprised when a man'ouché you're served in Chez *insert French name* falls below par of the one back in the day3a. They couldn't care less about how Teta used to make it, and they've got a Michelin star to prove it. This should definitely be the last resort for when you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the big city and pretend you're among the Cedars again, at ten times the cost of all of the above.

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