Cairo to Istanbul in a G-string #6

The Chicken Theory
“Ali, how come all Lebanese girls have big breasts?” I whispered across the breakfast table signing Pamela Anderson’s figure. “Is it silicon?”

It was 10 o’clock on a Monday morning in a trendy restaurant of central Beirut. Ali, my hot new date, followed my gaze and peeked discreetly at the ten twentysomething Lebanese girls who had just sat at the table next to us. Every single one of them wore a ridiculously tight and revealing stretch top that could barely hold in their disproportionately big breasts.

Turning his big black eyes back to me, Ali just clicked his tongue and jerked his chin up at me in that off-putting Arab way of saying no. Then, between two sips of tea, he said gravely:

“Too much chicken.”
“What chicken? You mean chicken as in dijaaj?”
“Chicken?… Ya Ali, what the hell are you talking about?”

He explained that, for the last few years, farmers have been feeding shameless amounts of hormones to their chickens to fatten them faster, practically cutting in half the time required for a chick to reach maturity. Lebanese, and to this I can testify, eat tremedous amounts of chicken. Unfortunately – or fortunately – the local stock is so full of hormones that, according to Ali’s theory, it alters the female population’s body proportions.

So a steady diet of Lebanese chicken would then be a viable alternative to breast implants? Hey! I had been eating chicken shawarma sandwiches for breakfast, lunch and dinner for a week by then and it looked to me like my pants were filling up much faster than my bra!

But never mind that. That very afternoon, empirical evidence from what I considered a significantly more reliable source was provided to me to back up Ali’s off-the-wall claim.

I got stranded in the middle of the Chouf mountains and was kindly offered a lift by a wealthy resident who was driving by. This friendly stranger insisted I come to his house (read “million dollar villa”) and meet his German wife. I had no set plans so I accepted and spent the afternoon with the classy and well-travelled Karine talking about religion, politics and… chicken!

“You know, it’s not as crazy as it sounds. I would actually believe chicken could be what’s behind it”, Karine agreed, leaving me choking on my peppermint tea.

“I’m serious!” she insisted, “I used to feed my female German Shepard scraps of chicken and I had to stop because the hormones were affecting her period.”

Whether the chicken has anything to do with it or not, one thing is for sure: Lebanese, men as much as women, are stunningly beautiful people. Always well-groomed and fashionably dressed, their tanned bodies are only as exquisite as their chiseled features. And of course I didn’t let that Lebanese charm pass me by…

First there was Abbas, the slick and witty Antonio Banderas look-alike; then there was this Ali guy, the ultimate romantic as flawlessly handsome as the hottest of Guess models; and there also could have easily been Mazen, the smooth talker with a perfect Chippendale body. But I only had so much time…

Needless to say, Lebanon instantly became my own little paradise. Indeed, its people are only as gorgeous as its scenery. Lush forests, deep valleys, snow-capped mountains and hundreds of kilometers of Mediterranean coastline (filled with all those tanned jogging bodies…), Lebanon simply has it all in so few square kilometers.

Beirut completely stole my heart: for its charm, hospitality, but mostly for its courage. The whole of the downtown area had been completely wiped out during the civil war and sorry remnants of shelled buildings are still very present as vivid reminders of the much media-tised national conflict. Yet Beirut has no time to waste feeling sorry for herself. An ambitious urban planning project to completely reconstruct the city center and restore it to its former glory is about to be completed, with everything bigger and better.

There is hope in the air, a contagious enthusiasm about a brighter future, not this stubborn bitterness I have found so overwhelmingly present in Israel and Jordan. I was very moved when I asked my friend Abbas whether he was a Sunni or a Chiite Muslim and he humbly answered: “I am Lebanese. We are all Lebanese here.”

The war is over. This is a new beginning for Beirut. The star of Lebanon shall shine again… Inshallah…

Unfortunately not everybody shares my enthusiasm. Many remain skeptical about Lebanon’s ability to rise from its ashes. Still, there are things everybody seems to agree on about Lebanon:

“Is it me or Lebanese girls all have big boobs?” Rachelle, my Aussie dorm-mate in Beirut, asked me during one of our late night chats.

“Too much chicken,” I answered gravely.

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