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WTF is everyone? A failed selfie, some Roman ruins and no people at a spectacular archeological site.

Hey, folks. It’s been a while since I have written a real post and not a list or a round up or a summary of an article published elsewhere. I’m sorry about that. The past year has been a rough one and I am tired. Like, really tired. And it has been stressful. So stressful! My skin has been freaking out and I had to get a mouthguard so I don’t grind my teeth at night from stress. Glamorous! Shout out to Dr. Rounds, the best dentist in the Garden State.

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Raw lamb and liver at Lakkis Resto House in Baalbek.

I have spent the past year decade working non-stop, day and tooth-grinding-night. This year, I filed more articles that ever and finished a book (Tasting Rome is available for pre-order, by the way). If I were not so sleepy, a) I would know with certainty if I should use “was” or “were” at the beginning of this sentence, and b) I would have a lot more energy to celebrate these exciting accomplishments. But alas, I am not longer the chipper young food and travel writer who could run on empty for literally years on end and still power through. But I want the old me back. So I did what I do when I want to regain my youthful vigor: I booked a solo trip to a foreign land. In the past, it was Turkey or Syria. This time, my quest for new energy has brought me to Lebanon.

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Machete-chopped lamb meat.

I landed in Beirut four days ago. For the uninitiated, that equates to having ingested half a dozen plates of raw lamb meat in its various forms (thank god for fattoush and similar roughage)! While I am totally enjoying myself and would absolutely recommend a trip to Lebanon (State Department, be damned!), being a solo traveler has one drawback: not getting to try everything on a menu or to even put a dent into the array of dishes I order. Just one plate of kibbeh nayyeh — raw lamb meat with bulgur — averages a week’s protein allowance, but it’s practically the national dish so while I’m here I am really going for it. I’ll also be visiting archeological sites–Byblos is on the horizon, while Baalbek is in the bank–some rural areas, plus Beirut. Regardless of the destination, minced lamb will be my travel buddy.