I’m sorry it’s been so long since I posted… So much going on that I just haven’t made time for it! I planned all along on blogging about this but I’ve just kept putting it off, so here it is finally. I got to have lunch in an Arab home for the first time! It was such a cool cultural experience… probably the best so far. We met our good friend Farah a couple weeks into the semester on Jordan University campus. She is studying business administration and is in her third year at university. She’s really sweet and her Arabic is beautiful… I could listen to her all day. She’s also very patient with our limited Arabic. It’s great to meet with her and practice.
A couple weeks ago she invited two of my friends and me to come over for lunch because she likes to cook and wanted to expose us to some authentic Middle Eastern food. We went over on a Saturday and spent 4 hours there! It was very different and we learned a lot about culture… and we ate – A LOT. It was more than I normally eat on Thanksgiving day! She made makloubeh, mulukhia, stuffed grape leaves, and stuffed kusa for us. It was more food than five people could possibly make a dent in… but we tried anyway. We started eating sort of fast because it was so good and we wanted to try everything… then as we started to slow down, Farah said, “What’s wrong? Isn’t the food good?” And we didn’t want to offend her so we started eating more steadily again. Then we got really full and finally put our forks down and said we couldn’t eat anymore. Farah said, “Oh that’s okay. You can take a break! Break’s are fine.” So we took some pictures of the food, chatted for about ten minutes, and then Farah said, “Okay break’s over! Time to eat more.” It was pretty intense… I’ve never eaten that much in one sitting! And there were still tons leftover.
Anyway once we finished Farah wouldn’t let us help her put things away, but instead had us sit down in the living room for tea. It’s really important to Arabs that you drink what they give you… so when she asked what kind of tea we wanted we said we could drink mint tea (which we assumed was herbal). So she brought out some tea and cookies, and after drinking the tea and exchanging some awkward glances, we realized that the tea was actually black tea with mint leaves in it. Then we had to figure out how to tell Farah thanks very much for the tea, but we can’t drink it because it’s against our Christian religion (we have to be very vague because it’s against the rules to mention the name of the church). She was very gracious and brought us water and made us eat more cookies instead. For the next hour and a half or so we sat talking to Farah’s cousin (who is also her aunt) and her other aunt (who is also her grandma). That’s right… their family intermarried. I think it was a pair of cousins who married somewhere in the older generation… I don’t really quite remember the details. But it was interesting for sure. Over the course of the conversation Farah took away the cookies and brought us all individual plates of a really good kunafa-like dessert, then took that away and brought out a platter of grapes. Seriously… SOOO much food. I’m sure that if we’d stayed longer she would have just kept bringing out more food… they were very hospitable. Our conversations were great too… they knew because we’d refused tea and coffee that our religion was something different from what they were familiar with as far as Christian denominations go, but we had to continue being vague so they naturally kept asking questions. We answered them all… basically outlined the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet. In the end they concluded that our religion was a very good one that was very like theirs, and Farah’s grandma/aunt even tried to set my roommate up with her single son. It was great : )
So that was it! It was great and it made me feel like I was really getting steeped in the culture. Here are some pictures of the delicious food! Hopefully we’ll get to go to many more Arab homes and maybe learn how to make the food too.
Sarah-Kate taking a break
Right to left Rebecca, me, Sarah-Kate, and Farah in Farah’s living room
Mulukhia (green stuff at top right, kind of like spinach sauce, with chicken in it) and rice with chopped almonds, also some interestingly sour olives in top center
Left platter: Makloubeh – chicken, eggplant, potatoes, and rice with spices. Soooo good! Makloubeh is a pretty well-know Middle Eastern dish… it means ‘upside down’
Right Platter: Wara’ Dawali and Kusa – grape leaves and zucchinis stuffed with a rice, meet, and almond mixture and eating with yoghurt-cucumber sauce. It’s my favorite
The tea we broke the honor-code on… accidentally