I'm afraid to say anything sarcastic about the Taste of America event that happened at BIEL Tuesday, because frankly I'd like to be invited back. Why? Three words. Free Shake Shack. They had free Shake Shack burgers, and I ate one and with those three minutes I surrendered all notions of journalistic objectivity I might have otherwise pretended to have. I sold my soul for saturated fat. Sorry, Beirut.com readers, I know you were expecting more from me.

In addition to all the free fast food, a guest at the Taste of America could find American cars, American guns, American blenders, American Secret Service agents, and American vests like the kind worn by SWAT teams. The event, sponsored by the US Embassy in conjunction with the American Lebanese Chamber of Commerce, was meant to showcase the full spectrum of American goods. This is somewhat quixotic, given that American made products are already widely available in Lebanon, and, what’s more, nothing is actually made in America anymore.

There was free American pizza, and free American Chinese food, free American fajitas, and free American macaroons. There was someone dressed up as a Jelly Belly with an American flag hat. I examined a bag of free American-mix Jelly Bellys sitting on one of the banquet tables. I glanced at the Jelly Belly on the bag, and then down at my own, 100% American, jelly-like belly. Then back at the Jelly Belly. Then down at my own belly.

Jelly Belly - the symbol of America?

I threw the bag in my purse.

U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon David Hale made what I thought was a really solid speech in which he demonstrated his Leb street cred – he’s a career U.S. Foreign Service Officer and it’s his third tour in Beirut. Hale joked that people walking down the aisles at a Lebanese grocery store might be forgiven for thinking they were in an American city like Chicago, given the number of American products on the aisles. For this, we can thank the Lebanese entrepreneurial spirit. No matter what happens in Lebanon, Lebanon remains open for business. Now, if only y’all could get together and get a president…

But did we come here to talk politics, or did we come here to eat?

We came here to eat – and Hale quickly wrapped up his comments so the guests could get down to the serious American business of stuffing face with free KFC, free Chili’s steak, free Miller, and so on. (There was free Subway, too, but no one really cared about the Subway. Haram, Subway.)

A dear friend of mine here recently informed me that I eat more than anyone she’s ever met. This friend has never lived in the United States of America. I really wish I could have taken her to the Taste of America event – maybe it would help her see where I’m coming from. Because when American food is on the menu, there’s no such thing as “restraint.” You don’t come to Burger King because you want to get your fill of daily essential vitamins and minerals. No. You come because it’s fast, you’re hungry and stressed out, and you can eat your feelings there.

As far as I’m concerned, the Taste of America is about gluttony. It’s about eating the pain away ‘til you develop Type II diabetes. Which, incidentally, is also what America is about.

Fuck yeah.

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