Links for March 24 2010

It gives me great pleasure to play this wonderful song. I've known it for a while, and just found this live version on YouTube. But it took coming across Qifa Nakbi's post today to fully understand its origins:

That’s right, he’s singing about food: yabra (i.e. stuffed graped leaves), harisseh (a semolina dessert), kibbeh bi-siniyyeh (a dish of meat and bulgur), lahm mishweh (grilled meat), etc.

A great tune. So what’s the back-story? I’ve been able to dig up various bits and pieces, but perhaps one of the readers can help out. The Wikipedia page on Gaillard suggests that he was reading from an Arabic menu, while this page claims that it was anArmenian menu, and that the song was actually “banned on at least two Los Angeles radio stations for its suspicious lyric references to drugs and crime…” 

Do listen to the album version on the post, as well as Arabian Boogie.

Now for the links...

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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.