CHECK OTHER REVIEWS FOR THIS PLACE:
Al Zouwada, Mar Charbel: Afif's Bakery in Hrajel
Afif: The King of Jokes and Emperor of Lahme Beajine
There are so many places in Lebanon that offer amazingly delicious bites - some you know, some you'll get to know and some you'll remember. Starting a new series, "Discovering the Hidden Street Food Gems of Lebanon", I welcome you to travel with me around our beloved country to discover the tastiest items around...
If you're a ski lover or happen to live in the Kesrerwan area, you'll definitely know this one...
I thought starting with Afif would be a good way to introduce this new series. His humor, good food and humble attitude all combined - make this man a perfect choice.
Who's Afif? He's the man who makes the best lahem baajine and homemade Laban in town. Where? His place is called Mar Charbel Bakery or better yet known by "Ambaratouriyet el Lahme Beajine", located just a few meters away from the Hrajel roundabout. This small eatery is owned and managed by Afif Zgheib and there to help him is his younger brother.
Lahmacun also lahmajun is a round, thin piece of dough topped with minced meat and minced vegetables and herbs including onions, tomatoes and parsley, then baked. Lahmacun is often served sprinkled with lemon juice and wrapped around vegetables, including pickles, tomatoes, peppers and onions.
As soon as you enter the eatery, Afif shouts out welcoming you into his humble place. He treats you like he's known you a long time, or that you're an accustomed customer... He then asks you to remind him of your family name before he starts giving you a detailed report about your roots and ancestors.
From time to time, when the bakery gets too busy, he shouts out to Azar, his right man, to help him welcome the guests: "Ra7eb bel jamahir ya Azar".
Here, Azar, with a strong mountaineer voice and accent shouts saying: "Ahla bel jami3, ahla, ahla"...
Good food, welcoming, humble, fresh homemade laban and some entertainment... The simplicity of the Zgheib brothers will definitely make you start your day with a smile ...
Just imagine a thin and crunchy crust, covered with local fresh meat from the village and enjoyed with homemade yogurt "Laben". Yes, it's pronounced "Laben" ... the Keserwani way.
Next time you're going up to Mzaar Kfardebian, make it a point to pass by Afif. It's a discovery indeed.
PS: I enjoyed Afif's character so much that I forgot to mention the lack of hygiene in this place. Even though very dirty, I don't recall or heard about anyone getting poisoned after eating at Afif. As he says: "3al barake!"
Thank you to my friend Elie Gemayel for helping with the video shooting and editing