My first and last day in Beirut is always the same: I have to get some kaak.Kaakis the street bread that Beirutis love more than anything, it is our pretzel, our simit, our croissant; you get my point. This time, my new friend, Hind, took me to a bakery in Basta (the neighborhood in Beirut that no tourist will ever venture in unaccompanied); I was in heaven!
The place was a grotto! You had to first climb a few steps, then see through the darkness and smoke the flames of a medieval-looking oven and the bustle of men getting their first shipments of kaak ready for delivery.
Kaak is delivered to all the cart vendors throughout the city. They dangle them on a rail in their chariot, covered in plastic for protection. You buy it and they will fill it with a choice of zaatar or picon cheese (a cheese spread similar to cream cheese). I always want mine with zaatar, of course!
Some stores specialize in kaak and will fill it with every imaginable topping and will even toast it. The best kaak is eaten warm, fresh from the oven. It is irresistible! Chewy, faintly pungent with thyme, sesame and sumac, it just feels so comforting whenever you are walking the streets of Beirut and feeling the first pangs of hunger.
the furn (bakery) owner, standing guard at the steps, tending to business
and having fun at the same time, in the typical fashion of a bastawi
kaak lined up like little soldiers ready for delivery to all the cart vendors in town
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