Monthly Archives: September 2011

My Food (An Angry Poem that’s not about Food)

“Just one really good book”

My dad said.




With a catchy title of course

And don’t upset the Jews

‘Cause then it would never get published!

Don’t fall in love with an American man

Even if he’s 1/3 Irish

2/3 Puerto Rican

And had Tabbouleh when he was 10

We don’t want you staying


Way over there

Where some can’t find Lebanon on a map

Find a good church too

Methodist, Baptist, Catholic

Episcopalian, Mormon, Unitarian

(Not the Moonies one!)

Presbyterian, Church of God

Speaking the Word of God

AND they like gays!

Oh my word,

Maybe I’ll just sleep in Sunday morning


“Do you cook ethnic food?”

“Like food with an accent? Do I

Look like a bowl of Hummus to you?

I’m sorry, but

My food learned French and English at 4

Wrote its first poem at 9

Won a dance competition at 13

My food wrote “Best Poem of 2008″ at 19

Gave the Valedictorian address at 22

Taught 7th graders that same year, and

Was awarded the Fulbright scholarship at 23.

No, I do not cook ethnic food,

My food would school your uneducated ass!”

Dima Mikhayel Matta


Nolita, fashionistas, baristas and flower-shaped gelato

“Livin’ just enough for the city!”

That’s what I heard the guitarist sing in Washington Square park, with his felt hat on, standing in a circle of musicians, playing, singing, then stopping to talk to strangers, and picking up the singing again. An old man joined in at one point and sang something about Mississippi.

My friend said “That’s the difference between New York and Beirut, why don’t we have people who are laid back, singing in the park?”

I spent the day in New York, walking through Little Italy, Soho and Nolita, past waiters with Italian accents inviting people to their restaurants, because, how could someone with such a beautiful accent (and usually spoken by a beautiful man) serve bad food? It cannot be!

I came to New York to buy rain boots and a winter coat. I bought a hat, a scarf, heels, tennis shoes, slippers, socks and two vintage comic books. Yea… I do maintain a clear sense of my priorities at all times! In my defense, it was a winter hat.

And I ALMOST bought this for my niece, then thought that it would definitely not make my sister very happy, so I refrained.

With tired feet and full bladders, we took refuge in a restaurant called “Delicatessen”. As I was walking in, I saw pretty people. Women with gorgeous skin, beautiful hair and a great sense of fashion. Men with gorgeous skin, beautiful hair and a great sense of fashion *coughs*. Yes, they’re not displayed there for us to sample, I’m afraid they “cater” to the “restaurant” across the street.

We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around, doing some more shopping and having one of the best ice cream experiences I’ve ever had! We went to this little place called “Amorino”, my friend told me I can pick the flavors I want and they give them a little “floral arrangement”.

And just to make my point clearer:

Needless to say, it tastes even better than it looks!

After our short-lived wild affair with ice cream, we went to the park where we enjoyed art, music and three guys making fools of themselves by trying to jump rope in the park’s fountain.

That was the art.

These are the idiots:

Note: I apologize for the bad quality of the photos, I only had my blackberry that day.

Why the Lebanese (me) Can’t Really Survive in America

I haven’t updated this blog in ages and now I’m doing so from a different front. The American one. I’ve been here for a bit more than a month, hopping from Boston to Newark, to DC and then back to Newark to start my MFA in Creative Writing at Rutgers University.

I have made many realizations throughout my stay here, but the one that concerns us now is the reasons Lebanese people can’t really survive in America. Now sure, you might be someone who didn’t like Lebanon much to begin with and living here suits you just fine, but I LOVE Lebanon and living here does not bring out the best in me.

Reasons why I can’t really survive in America:

1) FOOD!! There are no words to describe how much I miss Lebanese food, the thought of it consumes me! Back home, if you don’t really know how to cook and you’re hungry, you take some Labneh, put some olive oil over it and eat it with Lebanese bread with some cucumbers and tomatoes. Here, there is no Labneh, no Lebanese bread and the veggies taste funny šŸ˜¦

2) People on the street aren’t as helpful as they are in Lebanon. Back home, if you’re lost, some people would make it their life’s goal to help you find the place you’re looking for. They might drive you there, walk with you or give you so much directions that you feel like you know the place like the back of your hand before even getting there.

3) In Lebanon, when we say “thank you”, people don’t reply by saying: “yea” or “hmmm”! Is that what your mamma taught you?

4) In Lebanon, we have 2 coins that we commonly use, one is golden, the other silver. One has 500 LL clearly written on it, the other 250 LL. You cannot be confused, if you don’t know how to read, you can still tell them apart cause they’re different colors. Here, there are four coins, 3 of them are the same color, none of them have their numerical value written on them. And you can’tĀ differentiateĀ them by size, cause the nickel is bigger than the dime. So you’re stuck in front of the cashier, paying for your Twix bar and pepsi, which cost 3.48, panicking and thinking: WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?!?!?!

5) I miss the good old days when two things were common truths: we love shawarma, we hate Israel. Now, I meet a lot of people who support the state of Israel, others who dislike Arabs, and worst of all, people who don’t know what shawarma is!

6) Public transportation. Typical day in Beirut: leave the house, stand on the sidewalk, wait for a cab, shout out my destination, get it, pay 2 000 LL, arrive to destination, get out of cab. In America: wake up in the morning, go to the metro system’s site, put in my location and destination, write down the bus numbers, metro stations’ names, the color of the metro’s lines, the stops, the street names. Leave the house, walk to the nearest bus station, wait 15 minutes, hop on the bus, realize you’re on the wrong one, get yelled at by the bus driver, hop off, cross the street, get on the right one etc… arrive to your destination exhausted, ready to go back home and rest.


8 ) Why doesn’t the dekkenneh on the corner of the street deliver groceries to my apartment in the middle of the night?!

9) Why don’t they serve bezer w termos with beer here?!

10) Finally, why don’t people understand me when I put in some Arabic and French words in the conversation?!?!