Most neighbourhoods in Beirut have a furn, a communal bread oven where men and women gather in the mornings and early afternoons to get mana’eesh. These are crisp, oily little pizza-like pies topped with zaatar and olive oil, cheese, ground lamb, or Armenian sausage scented with cinnamon and fenugreek. You get your man’oushi hot from the furn, slice it or fold it, lavish it with yogurt or lemon juice or hot pepper paste, and stuff it into your mouth, preferably while standing on the sidewalk outside the bakery. It’s the perfect portable street food – especially during a social or political crisis – and so one day in December 2007, when Parliament postponed the presidential election for the ninth time, I went to get a man’oushi from my neighborhood baker, Abu Shadi.
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