Warmest of wel­comes at a tra­di­tional fam­ily if­tar

7 Days in Dubai - - NEWS - Pa­trick@7days.ae

his week I had the plea­sure of ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the gen­eros­ity and kind­ness that is syn­ony­mous with Ra­madan. I got to spend if­tar with a Mus­lim fam­ily who were kind enough to in­vite me into their home and al­low me to break fast with them.

I’m al­ways a lit­tle ner­vous about be­ing in­vited to some­one’s home, es­pe­cially when I have a ta­lent for putting my foot right in it. I needn’t have wor­ried be­cause as soon as I ar­rived at the Egyp­tian fam­ily’s home I was given the warmest of wel­comes.

I’ve been to a few if­tar events over the course of Ra­madan and I’ve thor­oughly en­joyed them, a lit­tle too much judg­ing by my ex­pand­ing waist­line.

What I hadn’t ex­pe­ri­enced, though, was tra­di­tional home­cooked Mid­dle East­ern food. Given my lim­ited palate I wasn’t sure what I was in for.

Any con­cerns I had soon evap­o­rated when I watched the table be­ing laid, a ver­i­ta­ble feast was on dis­play.

But be­fore I could tuck in to the food, there were tra­di­tions to up­hold though.

I have to ad­mit that the sec­onds we spent watch­ing the count­down to the can­non be­ing fired live on tele­vi­sion, to mark the break­ing of the fast, felt like an eter­nity. It wasn’t easy look­ing at such won­der­ful look­ing ex­otic food within touch­ing dis­tance, es­pe­cially as I was com­plet­ing my se­cond day of a self-im­posed fast.

The first dish was Mu­lukhia (pic­tured), a de­li­cious green broth that tasted un­like any­thing I’d had be­fore. To some­one whose soup mak­ing ex­tends to pour­ing a can of Heinz tomato soup into a saucepan this was a rev­e­la­tion.

That was fol­lowed by Fat­tah, an in­cred­i­bly tasty mix of rice, chicken breasts, bread and yo­ghurt. Again it was a unique taste for me and I was de­lighted to find my­self eat­ing as much as I pos­si­bly could, dis­miss­ing my no­tions of be­ing wary of foods I wasn’t al­ready fa­mil­iar with.

The fi­nal dish was boftek, a won­der­fully tasty steak in bread­crumbs that was right up my street. If I had have eaten any more they might have had to roll me out of the door.

Com­mon ground was found dur­ing the meal when we spoke about foot­ball and the Euro­pean Cham­pi­onships.

I prob­a­bly showed my age when talk­ing about how I re­mem­bered Ire­land play­ing my hosts’ na­tion Egypt in World Cup Italia 90.

De­spite our cul­tural dif­fer­ences, their warmth showed that kind­ness and gen­eros­ity are the same in any lan­guage.

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