I started to reflect on my eating habits.
However, in my reflections,
I’ve realized that they are not necessarily MY habits.
What I eat completely depends on who I’m with.
Let’s break it down:
I’m guaranteed to be
in an Arab home three days of the week,
and American homes two of those days.
It really only leaves
two days of the week up to chance,
and chances are,
it’ll be an Arab kidnapping me to feed me.
Really, it’s exhausting.
The food here is… delicious.
There is only one dish that I have found I don’t really care for,
but the rest I could [and do] eat any day of the week.
And I’ve noticed two things. The first is that I have become a quasi-vegetarian.
Not out of choice, but out of circumstances.
Because I am continually accepting last-minute meal and tea invitations, I don’t plan meals for myself. So I can’t pull some chicken out of the freezer and know for sure when I will be home to cook it.
[Last time I did that it sat out overnight because I completely forgot about it, got invited to a friend’s house, accepted that invitation, and came home so late that I had no need to enter the kitchen. Meat’s expensive and I can’t be wasting it and my money like that. So now I just don’t plan. But when I do come home, the meat’s still frozen. And even though I would love to eat that frozen chicken, I’m too hungry to defrost it and I end up eating whatever I can make in ten minutes. If I’m not making a meal for someone or if I’m not eating with some friends, I don’t have meat. It’s a classic case of quasi-vegetarianism, don’t you agree?]
I’ve also started taking advantage of being single in this matter. Since I don’t have anyone that I have to cook for [say, a husband and kids] I go ahead and eat whatever I can find. Peanut butter & jelly for dinner? Yes, please. People who don’t really know me just assume that I’m single because I can’t cook and invite me to bring a salad or drinks [puh-leeez] to whatever gathering we’re having. Rather than being offended, I enjoy this and save time and money.
The second point of reflection I’ve come upon is that I am often spoon-fed. I don’t get to choose what goes in my mouth. Now, the first time this happened, it was a lovely old grandma, covered in black, missing a few teeth. I tried to tell her that I was full and so happy with the food, thanks be to God, and that I couldn’t take one.more.bite. With jungle cat-like reflexes she picked up her spoon, grabbed my jaw and promptly [and efficiently I might add] shoveled food into my mouth. I was in shock. Grandma had just spoon-fed me. She was very satisfied with herself and I had no idea what to do. With all eyes on me, I quietly smiled, started chewing and mumbled a “zaki” [delicious] and a “shukran” [thank you] in her direction.
Since then, it’s become a common occurrence. Sometimes I’m able to gingerly avoid the spoon-feeding events, other times I know I have to succumb. It’s like they get together over tea and camel races, talking about how they make me eat, keeping score of who has force-fed me the most. I don’t really mind it, but I definitely don’t prefer it. I rarely get to dish up my own food, and even if they let me, I know a few minutes later they will be heaping more on my plate, while they just graze and eat a fraction of what I have to. I can never eat enough—I’m so rude.
Then come the speeches on how much weight I’ve lost or how much I’ve gained; how I’m not as fat as I used to be or how I need to “be careful.” But I’m saving that for another day.
All I know is that I decided that when I make something and they try to refuse, I take on their very character and force them. Unfortunately, I don’t think my friends recognize their own medicine. The only thing they can’t get enough of is chocolate-chip cookies. I’ve created monsters.