Friday, February 26, 2010

the cure to homesickness

Back home, I have been very frugal with my coffee. I would make my coffee at home, put it in my coveted thermos, and bring it to work. I hated the idea of spending money for coffee that I could make myself, exactly the way I like it. Since moving to my new home, I have not yet purchased a coffee maker, so I am now visiting my local coffee shop. I have had the pleasure of being served by the nicest baristas! There is an on-site coffee shop where I work, and the baristas are all Filipino. After good-naturedly grilling me about why I don’t know Tagalog, then grilling me about me using my reusable thermos instead of a disposable cup, I have been making this a daily routine. They also have treats – my favorites so far are the “date twist” and “zaatar croissant”. The other day I decided to try out another coffee shop. I met a Brother from India, who cooked up a nice cup of Turkish coffee for 5SR (about $1.33 USD). We ended up talking about a variety of topics – how long he has lived in the country, his goal of going on the Hajj with his mother, religion in India, how Muslim women dress in the USA, life in Saudi Arabia, and the like. But the biggest surprise was when the barista asked me if I had breakfast yet. I thought he was trying to get me to purchase a food item. Then, he walks out of the back room with his aloo paratha. He says that it is “Indian Breakfast” and asked if I would like some. Now, obviously this man did not know who he was talking to! I told him about my father’s and how I was taught how to make it as well. In the end, despite me trying to not accept the treat, I walked out of the coffee shop caffeinated and with a bag of aloo paratha and some halva! Now, it may be homesickness, but this Brother’s potato bread was the best I have had in a long time. Before I left the USA, I really wanted to get a thorough lesson about how to cook all of my favorite Pakistani dishes. There was not enough time to do this, but we did cover aloo paratha (or as we have Americanized it to be “potato bread” or “potato treat”). Watch and learn…

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Dates on a plane

I love plane food, especially when it involves international flights. Unfortunately, my last few adventures have not gone so well as I have been having difficulties with obtaining my vegetarian meal option. This time I thought I was well prepared. I ordered my "Asian Vegetarian" meal well in advance, double checked once on the telephone, and triple checked at the check-in counter. Unfortunately, "these things happen", the flight attendant said. My meal was not on-board and I opted for the fish, since I have been a wavering vegetarian (I know, I shouldn't even call myself vegetarian at this point). The best part was our first treat. A date skewered on a toothpick was served with a small cup of Arabic coffee. I originally thought this was thick tea, as the coloring is not dark brown like American coffee. The date was absolutely delicious and a bit cold from being refrigerated. The tea was served in a very small cup and was heavily scented with cardamom. We then were given juice choices - I had the mango. My main meal tray tray comprised of: a salad – tomato, iceberg lettuce, one olive, shredded carrots, and Heinz Italian dressing; roasted eggplant and baked fish with spicy garlic tomato sauce over rice with parsley and mustard seeds; potato salad topped with two fresh shrimps (this dish reminded me very much of a Japanese dish, right down to the mayonnaise salad); caramel cheesecake; a roll with butter; and bottled water. For breakfast the next day, I choose the cheese omelet with hash browns (I discarded the non-pork sausage link). Served alongside was fruit – grapefruit, grapes, pineapple, honeydew; a croissant; one roll; a wedge of foiled soft cheese, two jellies; orange juice; coffee; and bottled water. To end it all, when the plane was coming in to land, hard candies were passed out to help with the ear popping. I choose grape (purple).