Since moving to Saudi Arabia, I've grown an extra chin and tacked on a few more inches. The scapegoat for this phenomenon? My colleagues. I never have to worry about bringing food for lunch because the wonderful Indian and Pakistani ladies that I work with provide me with an exotic feast every day. My tolerance for spicy food rivals that of any native Indian, and I have developed and unhealthy appreciation for the chapati. All thanks to the exotic, savory, flavorful dishes they bring every day.
After eating and eating...and eating, a few months into the school year I decided that I should start contributing to the daily feast. I started by bringing the leftovers from a chicken stew that the Mister and I had one night. The tomato sauce was mixed with the rice and it had various spices and sauteed onions.
"...mmm. Amber. It's so....yummy," my polite coworkers cordially commented. I noticed that the container with the curry vegetables was practically licked clean as I was securing the lid on my still-almost-full plastic bin at the end of the day.
I tried again on New Year's Day. I brought in a Southern tradition: Hoppin John and collard greens! Granted, there is no pork in the Kingdom, so the greens were a little bland and the Hoppin John looked more like and Egyptian dish than a Southern delicacy, but my colleagues humored me and tried both dishes. I ended up eating the lion-share of the collards.
I didn't even introduce them to my Granny's chicken casserole. I just ate all those leftovers myself.
But I decided to keep trying. They've expanded my culinary horizons, I should try to expand theirs. So yesterday, I brought in Sunday night's leftovers.
I had recess duty, so I wasn't in the room when they served up our improvised lunch. After I returned to the English cluster, I was greeted with, "AMBER! This dish you have brought! It is so yummy yummy! How did you make it so flavorful? The texture is just perfect! I've never had anything like this! Thank you so much from bringing it in!"
They raved! They cleaned the dish, they asked for the recipe, they chattered away about it for at least two class periods.
As one of them was tying her hijab to leave at the end of the day she asked, "Amber, this dish you brought. What do you call it?"
How funny that a simple, classic American dish was such a hit with my exotic counterparts!