This is man’oushe and it’s the breakfast of champions:
Man’oushe is a common Lebanese street dish: a flat bread spread with a mixture of za’atar, sesame seeds, sumac and olive oil, baked in a bread oven and then served right away. When you eat it warm it’s sharp and filling and comforting and delicious, and it goes perfectly with a rich Arabic coffee and a cigarette afterwards.
The za’atar – a smoky favoured wild thyme – is the thing that makes it. You’ll find za’atar all over the Middle East and in Turkey too, usually served up powdered in a small bowl next to another small bowl full of olive oil. You dip bread in the oil and then in the za’atar, and the flavour of the oil’s mild creaminess mixing together with the tanginess of the za’atar is incredible.
There’s a huge French influence in Lebanon, and I’ve also found a bakery that sells croissants stuffed with the man’oushe mix and topped with sesame seeds. Because I’m not keen on eating sweet things at breakfast I definitely preferred them to standard or almond croissants, and I’ll probably try them again before I leave Beirut. But they’ve got nothing on the original man’oushe, and I don’t think I could ever get bored of eating it.