Fadi, a colleague at work, invited me over for dinner last night. His name vexes me somewhat, because you can only really pronounce it two ways: 1) with a flat "a" sound (rhymes with "patty") or 2) with a round "a" sound (rhymes with "gaudy"). I don't like either version. If I use #1, it sounds like I'm saying "Hey, Fatty," and then it feels like I should follow him home from school, laughing at him with my friends Vinny and Frankie, yelling "BOOM!!" every time he makes a footfall. If I use #2 ("Hey, Fawdy") it feels like I'm talking to a fruity floor worker at Banana Republic. Anyway, it's my own problem, I just kind of wanted some sympathy. (That's Grace in the pic, looking for water... no connection to this post).
So Fadi invited me over for dinner. His wife is a caterer, so she's really handy with kitchen tools like tongs and forks and ovens and thyme and stuff like that. She rocks my taste buds in a totally platonic way. Her food is so good that I bet Gandhi and Mother Teresa would brawl over it.
I would pay a lot of money to see those two in a cage fight. Especially if Bob Saget was managing Gadhi and Alf was managing Mother Teresa.
The only thing I don't like about eating with Fatty is that, over there, eating is serious business. Heaven save your soul if you have the nerve to say you're full. Fatty's face flushes. His wife pulls back her lips a bit, baring her canines.
"Have some more," Fatty says through a forced smile. You're confused. "No, really, it's okay. I'm feeling pretty full," you intone, somewhat quizzically. "You're still hungry..." Fatty's wife growls with a wave of her hand. Was that a Jedi mind trick? Is that the Force prying open your jaw and shoving another ball of kibbeh and a few more rolls of eggplant down your throat? Somehow, all your powers of polite refusal, the ones that usually work at dinner parties back in the States, are rendered utterly ineffectual by the momentous might of Arab hospitality.
In fairness though, the only lasting injury I think I sustained is the hole in my neck where, after I passed out from excessive caloric intake, they inserted a feeding tube to make sure I didn't go home hungry. How can you not love the Middle East?