Learn Arabic as it is really spoken. Listen to and read Levantine Colloquial Arabic.

Rita has a culinary adventure at the palace. She even tries camel tongue. What is the most adventurous thing you have ever eaten?

هيديك الليلة، رحنا أنا وأصحابي عقصر الإمارات بأبوظبي. كان في متل سهرة شعبية بس كلاس: شعبية لأنو الدخولية كانت رخيصة نسبياً (إنو عم نحكي قصر الإمارات بالنتيجة) وكلاس لأنو كلنا كنا مرسمين ولابسين تياب بتليق بالمناسبة وبالقصر.

الفكرة تبع السهرة هيي إنو قصر الإمارات يعرف سكان الإمارة عكل أنواع الأكل يلي بقدمون بالقصر، من الأكل اللبناني للأكل الصيني. والأحلى من هيك، إنو كان الشيف تبع كل مطعم موجود مع السو شيف عستاند المطعم تبعن تيشرح عن كل أكلة، ومن شو معمولة، وكيف بياكلوا سكان البلد، وعا أي مناسبات.

برمنا أنا وأصحابي عكل المحطات وأكلنا من كل شي، ما خلينا ولا بلد يعتب علينا. لبناني، إيطالي، صيني، إلخ، إلخ، وآخر شي، قبل ما نتحلى، قررنا ناكل أكل إماراتي.. عيب. ما إسمنا إلا قاعدين ببلدن للجماعة.

قربنا عالستاند محل ما هني موجودين وطلبنا من المسؤول عن المطعم ينصحنا بشي عزوقو.

نصحنا بلسان الجمل. سمعتوني صح لسان الجمل. صراحة كان نو واي فل وما جربو. إنو قلت لحالي أي متى رح يرجع يطلعلي هيك فرصة. وصار الشيف والسو شيف يخبروني عن قدي شي طيب وإنو قلن خمس ساعات عم يعملو وحاطينلو بهارات. قلتلو طيب خلص أوكي قبلت. وإذ، بس شافو الشيفية إنو خلص رح أعملا، فتحو المقلي، وبين قدامي لسان. لسان لسان، مش مقصقص، مش مغيرينلو شكلو. لسان، متل منو. أنا بيناتنا رتعبت، بس ما كان بقى بدي إتراجع عن حكيي.

خبيت صدمتي، ضحكتلن إنو الدني بألف خير، وأخدت الصحن. من جوا مرعوبة عالآخر. لقطت الشوكة وقصيت شقفة كبيرة تأخلص فرد مرة. أنا وعم قربا عتمي، فعلاً حسيت إني عم باكل لسان شي حدا، لأنو منظرو وكل شي شكل لسان شخص. كتير فكرت قبل ما إكدش، وفكرة تاخدني، فكرة تجيبني. آخر شي قررت إنو شو ما صار يصير.

أكلت وكانت الطعمة كأني عم باكل لحم غنم، بس كلما فكر إنو لسان، تلعى نفسي. غريب راس الإنسان وتفكيرو قدي بأسرو عكل شي بجسمو.

The other night, my friends and I went to the Emirates Palace, in Abu Dhabi. It was a popular, but classy festival: popular because the entrance fee was relatively cheap (we are talking about the Emirates Palace, after all), and classy because all of us were dressed up in clothes that fit the occasion and the palace.

The idea of the evening was that the Emirates Palace introduces residents of the Emirate to all types of food that they serve at the palace, from Lebanese food all the way to Chinese. What’s even cooler is that the chef of each restaurant was present with his sous-chef near the stand where their food was being served, to explain each dish, what it’s made from, how it’s enjoyed by the locals, and on what occasion.

My friends and I stopped at every single station and ate from all of them–we didn’t let any country feel left out. Lebanese, Italian, Chinese, etc. etc. etc. Finally, and before we had dessert, we decided to have Emirati food. At the end of the day, we are in their home country.

We went up to the stand where it was being served and asked the restaurant manager to give us his food recommendation.

He advised that we have the camel tongue. Yep, you heard me, camel tongue. Honestly, there was no way I was going to leave without trying it. I told myself, “When am I ever going to have such an opportunity again?” So the chef and sous-chef started telling us about how good this dish is and how they have been preparing and marinating it in all sorts of spices for the last five hours. I said, “Fine, OK… I’m in!” As soon as they realized that I had already made up my mind, they uncovered the pan; and, in front of me, was a tongue. An actual tongue. Not cut up, not looking a different shape–a tongue, as is. Between you and me, I was terrified, but I wasn’t about to back out.

I hid my shock, I smiled as if everything was OK, and took the plate. On the inside, though, I was completely mortified. I held the fork and cut a big piece to get it over with once and for all. As I brought it near my mouth, I truly felt like I was about to eat someone’s the tongue, because it actually looked like it was a human tongue. I thought about it so much, and the thoughts were fogging up my head. Finally, I decided that I was just gonna eat it. What could possibly happen?

I ate it and it tasted like lamb, but every time I remembered that I was chewing a tongue, I would get very nauseous. It’s really weird how the human brain and the way we think affect everything in our bodies.


  1. I love these stories and particularly appreciate hearing from young Levantine women! Is there any chance that you could publish these Levantine Diaries with handwritten texts, like you did with Egyptian Diaries? I am also trying to improve my handwriting to make it more “authentic” and readable by Lebanese native speakers. I would gladly buy the text version in book form if it is ever available. Thank you so much!

  2. This is a great way to hear people speaking a good volume of text. Thank you! I can’t get the other links to work such as “A Sad Story” and “Going to a Concert in Lebanon”

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