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
Function: noun
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.

8 thoughts on “

  1. I love middle-eastern food. I don’t sense the tension often if at all. Once lived in a neighborhood with both a large Israeli and a large Palestinian presence. At that point it was fine. The food generally indistinguishable from each other, of course.

  2. I wish we had good Mediterranean (like from Greece down and around to Morrocco) and Middle Eastern places around here.  Funny, you can find just about anything in Atlanta, except good Mediterranean food.

  3. Bleeding-heart pinko that I am, I’ve gone out of my way to patronise purveyors of Middle Eastern goods over the last few years. Kinda of a voting-with-my-wallet thing, ya know?

  4. I used to like getting this dish in Turkey that might’ve been like that.  Chicken, oils, onions, tomatoes, and assorted other unrecognizable vegetables.  It was a nice experience for folks you were taking there for the first time ’cause they’d wheel the dishes out in front of you while it was still cooking and mix the oils to make the flames 5 ft tall…freaked out the tourists.

    It’s been almost seven years since I’ve left Turkey, so you can see I haven’t really had an authentic experience like that in a while.  Well, maybe at a THAI cafe, but I’m pretty sure that kitchen was full of mexicans….

    -el mateo

  5. mmm nougat.  Everybody likes candy.

    I agree with Rache.  Everything tastes like chicken.

    Sounds like you had a good time.  Having a good vacation.

  6. Today, I told myself that I’m just not gonna eat stuff I don’t need for survival.  I got hardcore about it.  Then, of course, every other blog I checked out had something to say about very appetizing brands of food.  This is how life usually works out for me.

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