The “handbag bread” man, Hamra, Beirut, Lebanon

“Wait … a fresh one is coming up,” he would say, pointing to the chain ascending from his ovens in the basement.  I did not understand why he would not sell me an un-fresh exemplar of his unique, old-fashioned product.  Sometimes he made me wait ten minutes, until the bread met his expectation.  Then it was “zatar?  zatar extra?”  He couldn’t believe that we liked the taste of the bread undusted with spice.

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