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Mira Mawla 10 Sep 2015

Six Ways to Tell You’re From Baalbak

We all know there’s more to Baalback than vineyards and Roman ruins. I have to admit I wish it were just that at times. Here are six things every Bekaa native is known for. We know your suffering all too well.

The meat

Who needs orange juice and an omelet when you can savor the succulent flavor of raw liver for breakfast? Of course, your parents are not convinced that food is actual food without meat in the mix somewhere, and if you’re like most natives, you have a SEPARATE FRIDGE just for freezing meats. It’s a real thing.

The dabke

If you have it in you at a young age, expect to be doing the dabke at pretty much every public event till the day you die. Oh, and it’s not a regular dabke. It’s the Baalbak dabke. And it’s worlds apart. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Imagine: a lot more stomping and vigor.

The crime

Let’s just point out the elephant in the room. You’re the butt of every crime and theft joke if you’re from Baalbak. You’re probably teased about growing, smoking, and selling marijuana as well just because it used to grow there decades ago. But hey, it’s not the worst thing to be famous for! I lied, it probably is.

The ‘mouneh’

You’d think your grandmother has her own farmer’s market with the amount of pickled products, kishek, and goat labneh that come out of your house every season. This can be traced back to every Baalbacki’s inate need to use as much of the animal as possible. Of course, it’s all distributed to your family members. Just another opportunity to make real money, totally wasted (see #3).

The loudness

I’m sure it’s happened before: You wake up abruptly in the middle of the night thinking someone just got killed in your living room, when it’s really a bunch of your cousins laughing at a sitcom on TV. The minimum volume for Baalbeck natives is close to the maximum volume of normal humans. It is a true phenomenon to witness.

The weddings

Look around you. Are you in Chtoura Park Hotel? Or possibly someone’s village house lawn/garden? Are you surrounded by 300 of your first cousins? Are women, men, and babies being thrown in the air like volleyballs? You may very well be at a Baalbeki wedding. This is where elements 1 to 5 of our list combine in an all-night (sometimes all-week) extravagant celebration of clans and almost forced generosity. Wallow in it. It is all types of magic.