I get it that when peoples fight each other part of what they’re often fighting for — in addition to basic survival, dignity, justice, territory etc. — is the opportunity, eventually, to prosper, partaking of the finer things in life. And that when a grand and cosmopolitan city like Beirut gets pulverized from a great height, bourgeois amenities will be among the casualties. But the first paragraph in this otherwise pretty good Beirut dispatch from the Washington Post had me squirming.
The baby carrots at Beirut’s tony Duo Café restaurant were a little spongy. But the sauce normande was right on the beam and the loup de mer tasted reasonably briny against an astringent rosé from Chateau Kefraya.
The waiter asks if fruit salad will do for dessert, “since Duo’s more elaborate creations were not available in these trying times.” And the writer later reports the breath-stopping arrival at Duo of “a lithe woman with stylishly unkempt hair, her tank top revealing a lot of gloriously tanned skin, [who] used Arabic, French and English in a single sentence to greet a friend who had arrived for lunch.” Yes, Beirut is a sophisticated city. Life goes on there, as it must, people making the best of a dreadful situation. But…I’m still squirming. Is that wrong?