We're Jason, Beth, Lee Anna, Sawyer, and Sarah Claire, a family of five living, learning, and laughing lots in Northern Africa.
We hope you can learn a little (and maybe laugh a little too) as you read about our latest adventures.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Dinner With Friends, II

In America, when we tell someone they should come over to our house some time, we really mean, well, nothing at all. We’re just being nice and maybe one day we’ll call and try to work out our schedules in a few months and maybe, just maybe, we’ll actually have them over some time later. Well, last Saturday, we told Mohammed and Shymet they’d have to come eat with us some time. So yesterday, he shows up at our door and says (in Arabic) “Tomorrow will be good for us, what time?” So we said three or four in the afternoon. That gave us almost 24 hours to figure out what to serve and get our house in “company’s coming” condition.

He said they wanted to eat American food, but last week he had volunteered his wife to teach Beth to make something from here. He said they’d bring stuff for one local dish, and we’d just need to have onions and garlic and salt on hand (lots of garlic and salt). We decided for the American part of the meal, we’d make a chicken pie.

When they got here, they had brought ingredients for several dishes. So the ladies cooked eggplant, squash with tomatoes, and rice to go along with our chicken pie and fruit salad. And the ever-present “country bread.” This bread is a little hard to describe. It’s round and flat, but much thicker than a tortilla. It’s made from wheat flour, but has the consistency of cornbread, only spongier. It’s cooked on a flat surface of some kind, and looks dirty, but it’s not really (I think.) It’s also for sale everywhere. There are several corners in our neighborhood where people sit and sell it, and there are also push-carts and bicycle carts selling it on the move. Of course you can also buy it from any grocery store in the city.

Since we said 3 or 4 o’clock, they got here at 4:40 (very culturally appropriate) and we actually ate a little after 6:00. The girls worked in the kitchen while the boys played with the babies in the living room. Shymet asked Beth “What’s this” and pointed to the microwave. When Beth answered in Arabic, it’s a “Meekrowave” she just stared blankly. Beth tried to explain, and demonstrated by heating up a cup of water, but I don’t think she saw any advantage over the gas stove. After all, the water gets hot either way. Meanwhile, in the living room, Mohammed told me I shouldn’t wear my shoes in the house because I’d get the floor dirty. I was thinking it’s been a day or three since the floor got a good mopping, and I didn’t want to get my feet dirty!

At one point in the evening, Sawyer got a little fussy because he was hungry. So the same lady who took him away from Beth last week for holding him on her shoulder and not properly supporting his back tried to give him a bite of her brownie and ice cream!! Beth was there to fend her off, however, so he’s still on a milk-only diet.

Lee Anna apparently has some friends named Mohammed at her school. She pronounces it the same way they do: “Hamm-med.” Several times tonight she wanted more water in her cup, so she would say, loudly, “Hamm-med! Water!” She didn’t want water from Mommy or Daddy, just Hamm-med.

They stayed several more hours after the meal. I played and sang several Chris Tomlin songs for them on my guitar. When they tried to leave about 8:15, our half-hearted “oh it’s still early” was enough to get them to hang around another 45 minutes. The evening ended about 9:00 with Lee Anna following them out the door saying “Bye bye” over and over.

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