Party!

October 2, 2007 at 3:02 pm Leave a comment

We had many things to celebrate, Masayo’s birthday, William’s birthday, and Ahmad’s marriage. And one thing to party over, though hardly to celebrate. Masayo’s internship is over, and she is returning to Japan.

Ahmad’s sister Intisar came Friday morning, bringing her 12 year old daughter and some very large pans. We were expecting more than 20 people, and Syrians do not like to run out of food. Intisar showed me how she wanted the zucchinis and eggplants cut, what to do with the potatoes and tomatoes, how to make potato kebab, and how to spice the mixed vegetable stew. Within an hour and a half, we had prepared two dishes, each large enough to feed an army. By the time I left to meet my Arabic teacher and pick up the birthday cakes, two of Ahmad’s brothers had dropped off their wives’ specialty foods and various desserts. Makiko and her husband made miso soup and sushi. (The Syrians found the sushi a bit strange.)

I left to meet Hala at William’s favorite café, a place called T-Square in Aziziyeh. I wanted to buy him one of their logo baseball caps as a gift, but they insisted on giving me both the cap and one of their insignia mugs. By the time I returned, the place was set up and all the food was ready. (The taxi driver I came back with was a first–he is a Kurd from a neighboring village who thinks George Bush is terrific. I wonder if sociologists do polls of taxi drivers.)

People are prompt for Ramadan dinners. Food is served when the sun sets and the cannon or muezzin sounds, around 6:30 these days. We had our Damascus friends here, along with Hala and some of the people she had introduced me to, our friends from Sebastian’s, many of the Japanese staff of the JICA office where Masayo had been working, and various Ahmad friends and family. Ahmad served the wine he made from the grapes that grow over our courtyard, we had Egyptian beer, some raki, and lots of fruit juice. The food was terrific, the kind that one doesn’t get at restaurants here. (There seems to be a division of language between formal and colloquial and a division of food between home and restaurant. Restaurants serve salads and kebabs; home cooking is a variety of stews. Kibbe is ubiquitous, fortunately.)

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The party was enormously fun. People danced in the courtyard until they got tired, then one or another would begin to sing. A couple of the women were quite wonderful singers; one grabbed the top of a cooler and used it as a drum. I found it striking that everyone seemed to know all the songs–were these like Beetles songs we sang at parties in the late 70s?

So sad to see Masayo leave, delighted to welcome Diyala, Ahmad’s new wife. It was fascinating to watch friends from one circle interact with friends from another. Maher from Damascus is very funny, and seems to break down all barriers. We got to see him and others from Damascus the next night, when worked on finishing the leftovers.

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Entry filed under: Food, Syria, Turkey.

Diversity, Division, Peace? Che and Bashar

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