*Our driver Shar invited us last night to his house for Iftar, the evening dinner at which you break fast. This was a big honor and we were excited, not least, because his wife is a great cook and there's nothing like 12 hours of fasting to build an appetite.
Shar picked us up and their little house was shining and spotless in that way you know people have gone out of their way for guests. They also had invited their nephew to eat because he is the best student in his English class and he could translate. They had the TV on to catch the first notes of the maghrib, the signal that fasting for the day is over. We started with traditional dates and milk, the meal the prophet Muhammed broke his fast with, spead on a platter on the coffee table in the sitting room and then we moved into their tiny kitchen. It was a little like playing house. The kitchen table was set with an array of platters and there were dishes on the counters and pots on all the burners. The house was filled with a rich, thick smell of day-long cooking. And we dug into a kind of chorba with chicken, brik, burek, pita, salad, Thoum -- which are garlic and meat balls, a stew of lamb and chickpeas, another stew of beef, apricots and prunes in a sweet sauce, lemonade and Coke. They had been cooking for more than five hours.
Well, just as I was thinking, I'm getting full, a wave of weakness overcame me. I thought I was going to faint and so excused myself to the bathroom where I sat with my head between my knees for a while. I was completely white, my lips blue and I was sweating out of control. Even when I went back in, people could tell there was something wrong. It was embarassing. I basically was intoxicated with food after eating all that rich stuff on an empty stomach! The sensation happily didn't last too long, a little sweetened tea and I was flesh-colored again but I did not eat any of the fruit or cakes that came out next.
Because I have always eaten and eaten lots, this reaction to food after fasting, the heat, the speed of metabolism kicking in, is fascinating. We also are realizing that we can't eat as much. We made soup and meat the other night and decided after the soup that was enough, for example.
We are going to buy flowers and get Nadir to help us with a thank you note in Arabic for the great evening.