- Global Voices - https://globalvoices.org -

Syria: Sea Side Story

Categories: Middle East & North Africa, Syria, Ideas, Literature

An English literature professor from the little Mediterranean city of Tartous and a Syrian-Canadian writer on a trip to her mother country exchange glances at a cafe called Sea Breeze. That's how Mariyah [1] and Abu Fares [2] chose to start their adventure, and their readers’ new addiction.

A low rumble in my stomach broke into my daydream as a waft of spices and seafood drifted enticingly by me. I felt as though I hadn’t eaten in days. I looked back through the window and spotted the waitress, resting casually near what appeared to be the kitchen door. She had been immersed in a book but as though she had a sixth sense, she caught my gaze within seconds of it falling on her. She smiled knowingly and approached my table.
“Hungry?”
“Oh, yes! Do you have a menu?”
“Not here. But I’ll tell you what’s being made fresh today.”
“Oh heaven.” I thought to myself and smiled back at her, enthusiastically awaiting her description of dinner.

The story starts out as simple as that. The two writers, who are switching places every week, went from there [3]. We learn about Yasmina, Prof. Youssef's former student and the waitress at Sea Breeze, and Yazan, the nonchalant chef, all to the backdrop of Tartous’ marvelous sea side, and Abu Fares‘ and Mariyah‘s exquisite writing.

When Yasmina was introducing herself my eyes were distracted by the other woman. With delicate fingers, she picked a small hot fish by the tail, dipped it slightly in a bowl of sauce, brought it close to her lips, blew on it to cool it down then swallowed it all, head, bones and tail like a true gourmet. She closed her eyes and swam in her own pool of ecstasy. Then… then with her other hand, she pulled at a lock of hair which went astray in front of her face and shepherded it to join the others behind her ear. It was precisely the way she pulled at her hair that made me utterly defenseless.

We are at Part 16 [4] at the moment, but be sure to catch it from the beginning [5].