My assignment blog addressed a variety of themes and ideas throughout this semester. However, all posts somehow related to either food, emotions, or film. Thus, they all encapsulated the purpose of this class. Writing these smaller blog posts allowed me to get into the mind set of thinking about how an item as simple as a meal can encapsulate an array of emotions and messages. Additionally, it allowed me to improve my writing and to be more aware of my writing techniques. The creativity necessary for some of these smaller blog posts prepared me to expand my creative limits when writing the more polished graded assignments. I chose these specific blog posts because I felt that I struggled with them the most when initially writing them and because I felt like they had a lot of errors both grammatically and content wise. At least three of the posts I chose had been previously commented on as needing revision which allowed me to be aware of what my major errors and a writer are. I chose to keep my posts in the chronological order of when I initially posted them as I hope it will showcase the change in my writing style.
Thursday, December 8, 2016
I followed the mouthwatering aroma of caramelizing onions down the stairs to the kitchen where they lay sizzling in a pot of hot oil. My mother stands peeling potatoes over the sink and remains full of energy despite the hunger we all feel aching in our stomach. She stirs the pot of onions as I grumble to myself in a hunger born frustration.
It’s the 4th day of Ramadan, a Muslim holiday where we fast from sunrise to sunset, and the phrase “the first week is the hardest” is familiar to me. My griping and complaining about being hungry would last at least 20 minutes as my mother began to prepare for dinner.
“Sarah come help fold samosas”, my mother would yell up to me. I’d roll out of bed and lumber downstairs to see my brother and sister sitting at the kitchen table, already a few samosas in. They would begin by creating a pocket out of the pastry sheets and spooning in the beef and onion mixture my mother had made earlier that day. They would then fold over the pocket multiple times until they reached the end of the pastry sheet. Then they would wet their fingers with a flour and water mixture and spread it on the last edge of the samosa to seal it. We all sat around the table folding dozens of samosas for my mother to later fry and give to friends and family. My sister and I giggled as my mother chastised my brother for his sloppy folding skills. Laughter echoed through the house as we made the samosas and slowly forgot about the hunger we felt from not having eaten all day. The only interruptions were to wash off the goopy mess the flour and water concoction left on our fingers.
After what seemed like hours, sunset finally arrived. As the last trickles of sunlight melt into the horizon, my house becomes alive and bustling. My mother and father put the finishing touches on the traditional dishes. My father finishes frying the samosas we’d spent hours laboring over. My mother adds spices to her famous lentil soup. The scents of the food combine and complement each other as my siblings and I set the table and put out the drinks and sauces. I gaze longingly at the array of food laid out on the table as the minutes slowly trickle by.
We gather around the table and say a prayer before we all simultaneously break our fast by eating a date and drinking water. The sweetness of the date helps to balance your blood sugar after a day of fasting and drinking water is meant to help rehydrate you after going a day without water. We laugh and smile as we eat our long awaited dinner. Crispy flakes of the samosa wrapper fall to my plate as I take my first bite of the savory dish. I spoon the lentil and meat soup that my mother spent hours making and its sour and savory flavors bring back memories of my childhood. As I spend dinner laughing and talking with my family I am filled with gratitude. The month of Ramadan has multiple purposes but one of the ones I reflect on most in this moment is that I am able to eat after a day of fasting. I also think of all the families that go days with little to nothing to eat. Other kids my age that don’t have a home or a bed to sleep on but don’t complain about their hunger. Ramadan allows me to empathize and realize how blessed my life is. The hunger pain I feel during a day of fasting isn’t even an ounce compared to the lives of the less fortunate. As I continue spoon the lentil soup into my mouth, I think of how all the spices and ingredients that are swirling in my bowl have played such an influential role in my view of family. Just like the different ingredients combine to make an amazing soup, each member of my family had an important role to play in the creation of this dinner to make it a success. These dishes created unintentional family time that celebrated one of the deepest meanings of Ramadan; to appreciate loved ones. I am lucky enough to finish my day surrounded by family and food in a loving and warm home.
All my life, any important holiday, event, or birthday was commemorated with a fantastic meal. My mother would cook up a storm in the kitchen, hours before the meal was served. Any attempt to help her would result in getting shoo-ed out of the kitchen or given a menial task that had no real importance to the dish overall. Eating a home-made meal was an important way for my mom to remind me of her arab culture to me as I grew up in America.
After reading Norma Buama Joseph's article I've realized that sharing a good meal with people you love can be one of the most memorable experiences you can partake in. I truly believe that food is the language of memory as seen by how it commemorates major religious traditions. In my family, if a night of Ramadan goes by without a full 5 course meal being made its practically a crime. Eating samosas reminds me of laughing with my siblings as we struggled to perfectly fold them. Khoubs, a sweet Yemeni bread, reminds me of pre-sunrise breakfasts before a full day of fasting. I have loved coming from a family where culturally and religiously food has highlighted so many holidays. It's allowed each holiday to be more memorable because of how a dish can be so captivating of many senses. Sharing a moment of really spectacular food with people you love and care about really imprints that moment in your memory even though at times it can come at a high price.