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The camels are for the stupid tourists

I went out to dinner in Dearborn tonight. One of Robin's engineering buddies is from Lebanon and wanted to show off his country to some of his friends. And their friends. And their friends. So we were a group of about 40 in all. We had a banquet room reserved for us, we paid a set amount, and the food appeared and appeared and appeared and appeared. We had hummous, Lebanese bread (we weren't allowed to call it pita, although I don't know why), salads, tabouleh, falafel, shish kebab, shwarma, freedom fries*, and a million other things I didn't know the name for. It was all delicious. Well, almost all.

There were suspicious bright pink vegetables on one of the vegetable trays. Frenchie #1 tasted one, made a face of excruciating disgust, and said to Frenchie #2, "This is terrible. You have to try it." So Frenchie #2 tried it and made the same face. I had tasted something bright pink earlier and it wasn't bad. Wimps.

"Pass it on over here," I dared. Frenchie #2 cut off a piece and gave it to me. Uh... horrible. Horrible horrible horrible in a way that cannot be described. The color was all wrong for a food to be. The texture was insanely squishy yet impossible to cut. The taste... Robin asked me what it was like. My mind was a blank.

"You really have to taste it for yourself," I said. "There's no way to describe it." She took a bite and made the same face we'd all made before. "Well," she described, "It's sort of like when you burp bile." This is the best description I heard all night. It turns out it was turnips pickled in beet juice.

Luckily we were able to cleanse our palates with dessert. It was a creamy filling wrapped in phyllo dough and flavoured with what was identified as either persimmon or chirimoya. It was sweet, with a delicate floral flavour to it. The name of the dessert translates into English as "ladies' arms". I asked for the Arabic name and have forgotten exactly what it was. All I remember is thinking that it sounded a lot like he said, "The nudists sit"**.

* as labeled by Frenchie #1
** Where does a nudist sit? Anywhere he wants. And then you should probably wipe down the seat or something.

srah - Saturday, 15 November 2003 - 12:58 AM

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