Saturday night we were invited over to one of the YaYa’s house for dinner. When we arrived they announced that they were taking us out instead. They were the ones (she was, he might have been able to give us good directions) that gave us the bad directions to the Indian market. It turns out the Indian market was not even the store they were talking about. It’s an Arab market and it’s down the street a mile or so. Every bit as cool as the Indian place, it had all kinds of imported food, including a big assortment of European chocolate and cookies. There were shelves full of things in cans with no English subtitles. I bought some hazelnut cream filled chocolate wafers and a container of what looked like assorted home made Arabic confections. I say confection instead of candy because although these were very sugary, they were primarily made from dates. A few slabs of what appeared to be nuggat filled with pistachios, otherwise dates. Dates stuffed with pistachios and rolled in sesame seeds, dates stuffed with pistachios with coatings of nuggat….
Hold the phone. I decided I was throwing that last word around without any knoweldge of what it meant other than from Milky Way commercials so I looked it up:
Main Entry: nou·gat
Pronunciation: ‘nü-g&t, esp British -“gä
Etymology: French, from Provençal, from Old Provençal nogat, from noga nut, from (assumed) Vulgar Latin nuca, from Latin nuc-, nux — more at NUT
: a confection of nuts or fruit pieces in a sugar paste
So I guess they were nougats
…and some with dried apricots thrown in for a little extra color and flavor. These things have the density of an ex wrestler former MN gov. They’re the original energy bar. Next time I go hiking or fishing I’m bringing a pocketfull of these sugar bombs for an instant pickup.
Next it was on to the restaurant, Jerusalem. I’m not sure why the name because I’m pretty sure this was an Egyptian place. At least they had what looked like Egyptian temple art on the walls. I was reminded of the novel Palace Walk by Mafuz because of the Men’s club atmosphere. There were guys in one corner smoking these huge hookahs, I guess it was tobacco. Men playing cards. Pretty much men. There was one very western looking couple with a little girl. The woman was looking around and our eyes kept meeting. After reading Palace Walk I kept thinking her huge husband and the hookah guys were going to drag me out and make shwarma out of me. We asked the waitress what the special was and she replied, “I couldn’t pronounce it if I tried, so I’m not going to try.”
“Well what’s in it?”
“I’ll ask my uncle.”
It was baked chicken with onions and it was soooo, good.
I love a good cross cultural experience, but considering the current international situation, I felt a certain tension at both places. Maybe it was just me.