Saturday, August 8, 2015

La Playlist du Chat

It's international cat day, folks! I have good-enough reasons to believe that I'm a feline creature [probably a cat] but I'm not going to argue about that because I slept all day and your opinion doesn't matter... + there's salmon sashimi waiting for me in the kitchen so don't waste my time, human.

Instead, I'm going to share with you my catspired playlist:

The Cure - The Lovecats

Pow Wow - Le Chat

Lumi - Don't F With My Cat

Al Stewart - The Year of the Cat

The Rolling Stones - Stray Cat Blues

David Bowie - Cat People 

Louis Chedid - Chat Noir

The Kinks - Phenomenal Cat

Miaou :]

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Food For The Soul

A good playlist a day keeps the bullshit [temporarily] away.

Enjoy folks! 

Christine and The Queens - Saint Claude

Moriarty - Jimmy

Aaron - Mister K.

Chet Faker - Archangel

The Dø - A Take Away Show

JJ Cale - Don't Go To Strangers

Adam Naas - Fading Away

Edward Sharp & The Magnetic Zeros - Mayla

Johnny Cash - Wayfaring Stranger

Fauve - Juillet

Frànçois & The Atlas Mountains - The Way To The Forest

Thursday, February 19, 2015

No More Fighting Over Chicks!

Something I've learned while working in advertising and F&B is the importance of consumer insights. If you're not into marketing, you might not realize their importance, but insights are basically the key behind the most successful campaigns.

Take for instance Oreo's legendary "Twist, lick, dunk". The reason such a campaign really works is simply that it is based on consumers' habits. Most of the people who eat Oreo tend to do the twist-lick-dunk, even before seeing the campaign.

McDonald's Arabia realized that their McNugget were usually ordered as a side, i.e., to be shared. They just posted a video on their Facebook page announcing the launch of a series of new games that would help solve the biggest crisis in the world: who gets to eat the last McNugget! Ok, I know it's not the biggest crisis in the world, but who hasn't ever fought over that last piece of crunchy goodness?? In my case, we usually end up cutting it in half and sharing it, or else there would've been blood ;] However, McDonald's came up with a more reasonable way to solve this problem, making the whole process much easier.

Go ahead, check it out by yourself!

You can find all the games on Vine. Just look up #ShareAMcNugget! [or click here if you're a lazy ass]

Better not chicken out in front of this challenge ;] that was lame, sorry

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

LebKeys: "Bett 5afef El Labké"

In Lebanon, there are only 2 mobile telecom companies, Alfa and Touch, which are both private but strictly regulated (and protected) by the government. It is some sort of untouchable Oligopoly where price-competition is nonexistent. However, and fortunately for consumers, telecom companies can compete on another level: the service. Advertising is key for these companies who end up coming up with creative solutions to gain customers. From seasonal/themed campaigns, targeted packages, or even web-series, the telecom battle keeps on surprising us.

Touch's latest marketing effort is an app called LebKeys that allows users to add a Latin Arabic keyboard on their smartphones. I think it’s smart from Touch to make this app available to all users, whether they are their clients or their competitor’s. It won’t make Alfa users switch, but it sure has a chance to influence them in case of future purchase.

I can’t remember the last time I downloaded an app on my iPhone and kept it more than a couple of days, mainly because most of my memory is used by music. The rest is divided in 3: books, pictures, and apps. For apps, the majority of them are social networks, and the rest is news and 3 games. So basically, if I don’t really like the app, I tend to delete it right away.

I downloaded LebKeys on Friday and I haven’t deleted it yet. I guess that’s a good sign. I'm definitely not using it more than the French or English keyboards because I rarely text in Arabic. However, when I am texting in Arabic, this keyboard is quite practical. No more need to switch to numbers every time I want to write “7ellé 3anné” for example ;]. In addition, I feel so relieved that the “é” is there. I thought I was the only one using it, and now at least, I have a defense method when I get called “fghenchie” for typing “é” instead of “eh” at the end of a word. So yeah, thanks to the people who put that “é” on the keyboard (I bet they’re frenchies :P).

On the other side, something primordial is missing to this app: auto-correct and predictive completion of words. My English keyboard for example predicts around 30% of what I type in Arabic even though the words don’t exist in the dictionary. This app would’ve been much more practical if it had that option and I hope there will be an update soon enough, before I get bored :P. 

So if you type in Latin Arabic and you're interested to try this app, just search for LebKeys on the AppStore and download it for free on your smartphone (works on iOS and Android). 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Hold On, We're Staying Home

And then you wonder why, in Lebanon, disabled people stay home...

Ok so this is official: the only wheelchair-freiendly cab company in Lebanon, London Taxi, is shutting down

The reason? Hahaha

Well, the official version is that the company isn't making enough money.

But when I asked for the real reason: 
"People don't like taking London Taxi anymore because all our cars are for disabled people. You know how Lebanese people are snobbish. We have 20 clients but they're all disabled. And disabled people can't go on long rides, for health reasons. So we have to close."

My thoughts:

  • This is fucking disgusting
  • Is this even serious???
  • What the hell am I going to do if I want to come back home at 2 AM?
  • OMG I'm screwed
  • I'm soooo moving to another country
  • I need to do something OMG
  • But hahaha how retarded is this?

The real sad part is that no one realizes how worried I am, how much this is crucial for me… I have the luxury of having a private driver during normal working hours, but I can't expect him to work 24/7. I need my "autonomy" and this is only going to make me more and more dependent.

I still know what to do… 

Any cab company interested in winning 20+ new loyal customers? #JustSaying

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Food Safety Who?

So apparently the Ministry of Health in Lebanon has issued a list of restaurants that have failed the food safety inspection on certain items. And apparently, people are angry at the MoH. Because apparently, one of the most popular chain of restaurants of the country has failed the inspection because they were serving chicken that was apparently of bad quality or like not up to the required standards. Ok, shut up Apparently kid. 

Oh people of Lebanon, you contradict yourself so much! You want regulation yet if the results don't suit you, you reject them. But hey, I don't really blame you! It's not like we're giving you real alternatives. Actually, the government has you all figured out! You are the type of people who don't act; you react. You make a fuss but you forget so quickly. Again, I can't blame you. You are consumed by time, and you look for immediate satisfaction. Some would say that that's due to political insecurity, and you would agree. I mean, it's the perfect excuse to moralize your materialism. Well anyway, I'm not here to discuss this, so let's skip this part. 

So here's how things happen:

  1. People get food poisoned
  2. Media create buzz by "faking" reports about cats and mice in supermarkets' warehouses
  3. People react and ask for regulations
  4. Ministry of Health corruptly and randomly inspects food samples from restaurants to shut the people up
  5. People react because they dislike the results and they are emotionally attached to restaurants 
  6. Ministry of Health ignores the people and know it will pass
  7. People have nothing to react to, they forget the matter

So who's really to blame here? The restaurants who serve bad food? The government for putting no regulations? The consumer for being too easygoing? I'd honestly blame all three parties, but I'd also add another party to the list: farmers and producers. 

For a matter of practicality and lack of time, I will take the example of chicken. It happens that chicken is the ailment the most prone to diseases. It also happens to be the aliment that failed the popular restaurant mentioned on the inspection. Great. 

So let's go back to the beginning of the journey, to when the chick got out of the egg. Here again, we are choosing that as a point of start, or else we would end up arguing whether the egg or the chicken came first. Let's list the steps in which the chick passes by until it gets to our plate and which should be given much more attention if we want safe food:

  1. Environment in which they grow [in Lebanon: chicks are stacked in dark overcrowded cages]
  2. Feeding [in Lebanon: growth hormones, fish meal (powder made of organs and bones from processed fish. Now you understand "zankha"), chicken meal (powder made of chicken flesh, skin, and bones. Cannibalism much?), meat meal (you got the point, #MadCow101), and if we're lucky soybean (full of estrogen)…]
  3. Environment as adult chicken cultivated for its meat [in Lebanon: well let's say that american regulations say no more than 10 chicken per cage, which is already crazy, so imagine here… Farmers want to fit more chicken in less space.. Chicken produce methane (poo) which not only stinks but also increases temperatures leading chicken to hyperventilate (chicken don't have sweat glands so they start breathing fast to reduce their body heat) which thus leads to stress and hardening of the meat. The cages are not cleaned often enough and thus the cages' floors are humid, leading to several diseases]
  4. Transportation to slaughterhouse [in Lebanon: remember the cages in which more than 10 adult chicken are stacked? Well these cages are then stacked on three levels in transportation trucks. No truck shield from the sun, no AC whatsoever. The temperature in unbearable. And let's not forget the bad roads and lack of infrastructure]
  5. Arrival to slaughterhouse [in Lebanon: 30% of the chicken are dead or almost dead from the road, the rest is over-agitated. In "modern" slaughterhouses, chicken are given a mini electroshock to calm down and stop moving so that slaughter is easier]
  6. Slaughter [in Lebanon: usually manual. I know only one slaughterhouse/factory that uses the "modern" technique of hanging the chicken by their necks and mechanically slaughtering them, with records of the Qur'an playing in the background, and they call it Halal]
  7. BONUS: Emergency slaughter [Only in Lebanon: The almost dead or not moving chicken are sent to emergency slaughter a.k.a. kill them before they totally die. Yup, one third of the chicken you eat is "almost" dead before slaughter…]
  8. Packing [in Lebanon: not used a lot. We rarely see any label. You don't need information, stay ignorant and foolish.. Right?]
  9. Cold storage at the retailer [in Lebanon: fi kahraba?]
  10. Cold storage at restaurants [in Lebanon: chou ya3né kahraba?]
  11. Handling [in Lebanon: ok, he's wearing gloves… but did he change them after going to the bathroom?]
  12. Cooking [Chicken should ALWAYS be well done.. Or else, hello salmonella and co.]
  13. Re-heating [in Lebanon: not so commun.. I hope!]
Okay we're done. 

See, only 4 stages out of 13 are from restaurants. It's just the tip of the iceberg. Food safety is a muuuch bigger issue, and regulations should be done on all 13 stages. Standards should be set. They should be shared with farmers, producers, retailers, restaurants, and consumers so that everyone is on the same page. 

Yes, I am anti-regulation. But consumers in Lebanon are not aware of anything. They only care today, but tomorrow they'll probably move on. Only good regulation can get us on the right track. But do we really deserve it? Allow me to have a doubt.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Dégustation at Crepaway.

Between work and swimming, I haven't been going out much for the past couple of weeks. I wake up every morning swearing to myself that I'll sleep early at night, but when I come back from work, there's too much on my mind. I always need to rest before sleeping, to recap my day, so I end up sleeping late. 

This tiring cycle is kind of confirming to me that I am a cat; a nocturnal creature that needs 18 hours of sleep a day, that enjoys cuddling and eating. Going out isn't so appealing to me, and I'd rather stay in, watch a movie, and drink coffee. 

But sometimes, there are outings you can't refuse. When I got the invite from Mario, I knew that I couldn't say no. Not only is he a really cool restaurateur whom I enjoy conversing with, but it was also a chance for me to feel like a Michelin inspector. Ok, I know it's Crepaway and not some étoilé restaurant, but still, it's nice to be invited to a dégustation ;]

So about this new menu, there's a lot to say. But since I'm still not an inspector, I'll just be sharing with you the three items which I believe are the stars of this new menu.


I'm a huge fan of basil; it's probably my favorite leaf. Pesto is usually served hot, something I'm a bit less fanatic of. This salad reconciles my love for pesto, and brings out the pasta lover in me.

The +s: The pine nuts. The simplicity. The portion.

I'd change: The lemony dressing kind of hides the pesto, I'd replace it with a light vinaigrette. Also, add some some fresh basil leaves.

So colorful :]


Some call it cuban, others call it mexican. The typical tex-mex burger... At Crepaway, they call it Tex, and it's really a good burger. With the competition they have in this booming burger market, they were able to catch my attention. There's something about the fresh avocado and that melting cheddar. 

The +s: The patty is thick enough and not overcooked. The avocado slices tame the spiciness.

I'd change: Too much jalapeño maybe? 



Apple crumble meets crêpe suzette. What else can I say?

The +s: Perfect sweet/salty balance.

I'd change: Nothing, honestly.


And as if good food wasn't enough, this outing was also the chance to see some folks I've missed. Look, Maurice was there!

Trynna' beat his beard ;]