Bon Appetit

Bon Appetit

A Story by Sami Khalil
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The Passionate Foodie

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THE GOURMET CHEF | JANINE SALZMAN | Chemers Gallery

Bon Appetit               by Sami S. Khalil

The passionate foodie…


Suffice to say, as everyone knows, food plays a vital role in every culture. Without hyperbole one can muster, it is among language, music, and art central to the welfare and identity of such peoples since mankind traversed this planet. What makes food intriguing is that some had remained traditional; others evolved from their ancient roots, adopting the neighbors’ or occupiers’ cuisine. Women in particular had kept the treasured family recipes alive while men took care of the business side, dispensing comfort foods in different ways.


As everyone understands too, there is no shortage of famous chefs who rose to prominence in every country on the globe, whether be it on T.V., blogs, magazines even in their own establishments.


Such was the story of Ameer, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed lad, who hailed from East Beirut, which was separated from West Beirut during the civil war of 1975-1990, by the” Green Line”. As he grew up hating the war where brothers became enemies overnight, he witnessed many tragedies and mayhem that makes one aghast. Among all the destruction, he enjoyed soccer with his friends, field trips to the majestic snow-capped mountains for skiing and, above all, his mom’s cooking.


Maryam (Mary) was a chef in her own right, owning a gourmet restaurant overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. She did prepare the most delectable dishes as the locals would testify. Ameer’s dad, Yacoub (Jacob), was a dentist with a sweet tooth; a famous surgeon to be specific. Although he had a clinic in West Beirut at the posh “Alhamra street” before the war started, he had to close it; fleeing with his staff the sectarian killings, to go work in a charitable hospital called the “Crowning Glory”. He was a disciplinarian and the driving force getting his son interested in the profession. The dad liked Ameer to follow in his footsteps to become a dentist and that of his grandfather, too.


But Ameer had a passion for food and cooking like his mother did. Yacoub insisted by showing him the pros and cons of both and asking him to just try and see if he would like it. Ameer could not forget what his dad said: “Stick with science son, not recipes. Your future will be as bright as the Lebanese sun.” So off to America he was sent to stay with close relatives and attend the local college in Detroit, Michigan. While in America, Ameer met famous

 

artisans who fled the war in droves, offering the locals the rich Levantine cuisine. He also excelled in his curriculum for he was an over achiever. Now, every time he tasted the food of those chefs, they reminded him of his mom’s, his love for her and her entrepreneurial spirit.


One day, he received some bad news. His mom perished in a wave of rockets’ shelling between the two sides. Her restaurant suffered a direct hit, becoming obliterated. The news devastated him for it was unbearable. To add insult to injury, he knew he could not go back now for he will be killed too until the war ends and some peace prevails. When it did in 1990, he went back after graduation to see his surviving dad and rebuild his mom’s place as to honor her memory. The embers in his heart burnt the memory of his mom, thronged with echoed voices. His lips quivered with the sounds of her praise as the days went by. Nothing could bypass the wounds except her tender touches. He thought to himself, “what a life we live? Does not life throw curveballs at us all? For surety, no parting gift is given by her upon our deaths and our timorous whispers.”


Ameer put all that past behind, ventured to rebuild his mom’s gourmet restaurant, hiring the most famous chef in Lebanon to run it, going on a peace, unity and a healing mission to bring the disjoined country back together by highlighting shared things. It was all done to honor the mother and the country. He purchased a drone, hired a photographer to accompany him, then embarked on visiting every village, town and city. He showcased their beauty, the generosity and goodness of the people, rich heritage and the marvelous cuisine they all shared. He even published a cook book, giving the proceeds of its success to orphanages.


Ameer became a great influencer. With time’s passing, his dad passed on from old age. He left him a handsome sum of money and a clinic to run back in West Beirut. He did, juggling his time between the restaurant venture and the clinic. With the money inherited, he decided to open a culinary school, free of tuition, to any orphan willing to study and excel in the culinary arts. Upon graduation, he would have an end year ceremony, handing students their medal, named after his mom.


As one ceremony proceeded on, Maryam was called to receive her cherished medal. As he looked at her, a semblance struck him. It sent shivers down his spine. He could not sleep that night.      

 

© 2021 Sami Khalil


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Reviews

Thank you Sami for sharing the amazing story. I saw war torn places and I respect the people. Who survived the hate of war and teach us. To be better. A outstanding story shared.
Coyote

Posted 5 Months Ago


Sami Khalil

5 Months Ago

Wow! Thank you so much my friend for this awesome review and gentle empathy. First- hand experience .. read more
Coyote Poetry

5 Months Ago

You are welcome Sami. I believe, us who love to write. Need to showcase the great people in our worl.. read more
Sami Khalil

5 Months Ago

I do agree sir. You are welcome...
' The embers in his heart burnt the memory of his mom, thronged with echoed voices. His lips quivered with the sounds of her praise as the days went by. Nothing could bypass the wounds except her tender touches. He thought to himself, “what a life we live? Does not life throw curveballs at us all? For surety, no parting gift is given by her upon our deaths and our timorous whispers.” '

Seems that those words are the heart of your story and yet what makes that heart romp is the glorious tale ~ continually ringing very factual, hugging it close in such an interesting but sincere manner. Found your words fascinating start to finish; every section, each topic, briefly but sYmpathetically made this a great story. Tis memorable.. and the ending, perfect.

Posted 5 Months Ago


Sami Khalil

5 Months Ago

Whoeee! What a glorious review from a glorious poet. I love how you hone in on the most and highligh.. read more
emmajoy

5 Months Ago

PS - The painting was and is a great find and so very appropriate.
Sami Khalil

5 Months Ago

:::::::))))))))))))))
dearest Sami... Psalm 92:12... the Cedars of Lebanon... King Solomon made]
Cedar as plentiful as the Sycamore-Fig trees in the foothills. There is quite a History
of Lebanon. So many things will never be erased... even for our Country and the "Faith"
that has endured. I find strength in your Stories. tenderly, Pat

Posted 5 Months Ago


Sami Khalil

5 Months Ago

Wow! You are so right. Thank you for quoting and highlighting history and hope for the future. Your .. read more
Your stories just keep getting better & better. This is the kind of story where you don't need to engage in wordplay & you wisely let the story tell itself. This story has such a powerful storyline, it doesn't need embellishment (altho you are usually very good at embellishing & wordcrafting in your other stories). You tell this story so single-mindedly, so passionately, for much of this reading, I thought this might be about you. But since you're not in Lebanon running both a restaurant & a clinic (at least I don't think you are!) I guess this must be about someone you care for so much, you would tell this story as if it's coming from your own heart. Becuz of your interesting name, I've always wondered about your ethnic background & now I'm thinking you must have close ties to Lebanon becuz you tell this story like you were there. All in all, great story well told, leaving us with an inspiration to ponder (((HUGS))) Fondly, Margie

Posted 5 Months Ago


barleygirl

5 Months Ago

Love how you acknowledge that, Pat . . . Sami has such a warm humanistic heart! *smile*
Sami Khalil

5 Months Ago

::::::::))))))))))))
Patricia Wedel

5 Months Ago

I am purring like a Kitten... gently, Pat
Wow, this is so good and moving as well, Nicely written

Posted 5 Months Ago


Sami Khalil

5 Months Ago

Hi Just Kim! Thank you kindly for this lovely visit and sharing. Good to see you.
Just Kim

5 Months Ago

you too, have a wonderful morning
Sami Khalil

5 Months Ago

::::::))))))))))
Dear Sami...
Your ability to write with such clarity. a moving tale of how the power of belonging..fills us with an inherent desire to be with our loved ones and a yearning for loved ones that are no longer with us. Evoking one's own memories of nostalgic longings, holding onto the memories so tight it hurts. That feeling of wanting to have that one last opportunity to..sit..talk..laugh..and eat together again...but all we have is the love that remains...and a legacy that is etched deep into our hearts!

"As one ceremony proceeded on, Maryam was called to receive her cherished medal. As he looked at her, a semblence struck him. It sent shivers down his spine. He could not sleep that night"

Ameer's mothers love is everywhere....as is mine!

Beautifully written Sami... :)

YB


Posted 5 Months Ago


Sami Khalil

5 Months Ago

Hi Butterfly. As you fly with your beautiful wings here and there, you brighten our world. Your word.. read more
Sami Khalil

5 Months Ago

"all we have is the love that remains...and a legacy that is etched deep into our hearts!"
Wo.. read more
Just 843 words - that's astounding!

Posted 5 Months Ago


I am seriously amazed at your intricate weaving of the personal, cultural, historical, political and how you tell an entire epic story spanning decades and continents in such a few words. When I read your stories, you teach me so much about the world, make me think, show me what it is like to be someone else and bring up a range of emotions for me. I think there is much to learn from you about the art of writing short stories and the art in general of brevity!

Despite the gravity of much of the subject matter, the gem in this story, for me, is this:

“A dentist with a sweet tooth”

Such a simple phrase, but does much to invoke an image of the person you are describing and makes the reader smile too.

Bon appetit, Sami 🙂

Posted 5 Months Ago


Sami Khalil

5 Months Ago

Hi Helen. Bon Appetit. I like how you slice and dice your understanding of my write to create a deli.. read more
Helen

5 Months Ago

That's a clever response Sami!
Sami Khalil

5 Months Ago

:::::::))))))))))
“what a life we live? Does not life throw curveballs at us all? For surety, no parting gift is given by her upon our deaths and our timorous whispers.”

Posted 5 Months Ago



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Added on February 1, 2021
Last Updated on February 1, 2021

Author

Sami Khalil
Sami Khalil

Tuscaloosa, AL



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