Gourmet grenades at "Buns and Guns"

Behind a barricade of sandbags, Ali devours a "Magnum 357" as his friend Hussein tucks into a giant "B52".

by: Rana Moussaoui: AFP | 09 Jul 2008

Welcome to "Buns and Guns" restaurant in the heartland of south Beirut controlled by Lebanon's Shiite militant movement Hezbollah.

Lebanon's political crisis, Hezbollah's war with Israel in 2006 and worsening tensions have become a source of inspiration for restaurants in a country marked by violence.

"A sandwich can kill you," reads a slogan on the wall of Buns and Guns, where the decor evokes a barracks decorated with a veritable cache of weaponry – in plastic – and photos of Israel's main battle tank, the Markava.

Even the ceiling and shutters have the look of military trellis-work.

An "offensive" menu, which includes "chicken camouflage", "Dragunov (sniper rifle) steak" and roast "M16", is offered to clients who need little explanation of the military terms.

"I wanted to offer a new concept of a restaurant, and the tense situation in Lebanon was partly what inspired me."

Dressed in military fatigues and wearing a helmet, chef Amer cuts and fries pieces of chicken, as drops of sweat pour from his brow.

The message is not to teach violence.
Hussein, aged 15 and who was born after Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war, says he is crazy about the food in Buns and Guns, even though in fact it scarcely differs from that served up in any other Lebanese fast-food outlet.

"My friends and I love weapons – though not to kill each other," he says, speaking through a mouthful of "grenade" potato-chips.

Aware that some potential clients would hesitate to enter the dangerous Shiite suburb, Youssef says he wants to open "another branch in Beirut and one in a Gulf country."

The short-term solution is a delivery service which, the menu boasts "is faster than a bullet."

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