Monday, October 13, 2008
My Big Fat Lebanese Sunday
Our youngest daughter, Angela, is adopted. Her birth father, Ali, was deported to Lebanon about 15 years ago. He is currently a Canadian citizen with a home in Windsor. Angela reconnected with him this past summer. Yesterday we went to Canada to see him and meet the rest of the family
The very minute we drove down the street I could spot the house by the Lebanese flag hung on the front porch and I was reminded of the "Big Fat Greek Wedding" movie with its Greek flag painted on the garage door. That was only the first time I would compare the day to the movie!! If you've seen the movie you'll remember the scene where the guys parents meet the girls big Greek family and they are sitting in the house completely bewildered, getting sloshed on ouzo - that is exactly how I felt! Only I was getting a big caffeine buzz from all the tea.It is hard to believe that you could be one short hour away from home and not only in a different country but in a completely different culture! Most of the people we met spoke fairly fluent English but some spoke only Arabic. Angela told us about some of the customs so that we wouldn't be completely stupid. For example - there is a hose in the bathroom because they don't use toilet paper (no comment =>) Dogs and cats are forbidden (haram) so they all had birds. All the women wore head scarves. Her birth father is haj which means that he has made his pilgrimage to Mecca. It is a great honor for him but it means that he can't even shake my hand. (During dinner he asked if I'd breastfed Angela because if I had then he could shake my hand. Weird, huh?) He did shake Tom's hand and his wife and mother and sisters could shake my hand but not Tom's. I'm a big hugger so yesterday was a little strange for me. This is a picture of her birth dad and me at one of the homes we visited. They are all very social and friendly and we were offered a beverage and tea at each home we visited. Also pastries. Remember in the Big Fat Greek Wedding the dad used Windex for each ache and pain?? This family uses Kleenex for every paper product imaginable! Coasters, napkins, plates, etc..... If you've ever had Arabic pastries you know how sticky they are. Can you imagine baklava on a Kleenex????
After we'd been there about 4 hours and met many family members (whose names I can't pronounce let alone spell!) Ali announced that it was time to go eat. Yikes!!! I was stuffed with pastries and tea! Since they have to eat food that is prepared a certain way - halal - we went to a Lebanese restaurant where he ordered for us. Good thing since we don't read Arabic! There was so much food we could've fed an small army! The good thing is that he explained to us what everything was. I actually ate kibbe and it was pretty good. There was a plate of raw quartered onions on ice on the table. He said you eat the onions so that you don't get sick from the raw meat. Hmmmmm. I don't know about that but no one got sick and we were on our way home shortly after dinner. And we are invited back next Sunday for a family barbecue!