What’s better than french fries? Definitely Lebanese Street Fries! Lining the streets of Beirut, you’ll find shop after shop selling street food. Mostly anything and everything that is doughy or pita bread filled with delicious sweet and savory foods.
From manakeesh (za’atar bread), jibon (cheese bread), falafal, shawarma and one of my most memorable, the sandwich batata (potato sandwich). I honestly didn’t realize what I was eating the first time I had one of these sandwiches. It was an experience delving in but it stuck and so did the memory.
The last time I was in Lebanon I was only 16, maybe 17 years old. Young, excited to learn about everything and anything. My cousin and I would head to Bikfaya to watch a live futbol game (aka soccer) and run a little snack stand. We hitchhiked down into the city from our little village, Zabbougha. A few car rides down the steep mountainside and we made it to the futbol arena. Lights lit up the sky, people all surrounded the arena. I was young, broken Arabic but I was there to take it all in. The sights, the sounds and the food.
That summer, I experienced so much. I feel like I got a real sense of who I was and immersed myself within my culture. As I look back now, I remember my family of course but also the food and history. One of the most memorable foods of that summer was the sandwich batata (potato sandwich). A layer of french fires, a mayo/ketchup mixture and shredded cabbage all stuffed between pita bread. How magical!
It has been over 20 years since I’ve been back to Lebanon. Everything I know and learn today is through my parents, research and this distant memories when I was much, much younger. I love sharing dishes like this with my family and telling them the stories that I remember from family that they will hopefully meet one day.
I hope this dish transports you somewhere magical. Whether you decide to use frozen fries, enjoy the potatoes as is off the tray or make them into a sandwich like I remember from my younger days, enjoy every bite.