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6/11/09 Tea Party Take Two

As promised, the story of my second tea party.

This was infinitely more successful than my first, and it's entirely due to Jamal. My PCV brother and host cousin rocks the kitchen, I've gotta say. :)

Around 7 last night, four members of my host family showed up at my door.

I invited them up, exchanged the requisite greetings, and invited everyone into the living room. I'd kept it mostly-tidy in anticipation of their visit, but very deliberately left out the sleeping bag Jamal has been using, to underscore the point that my PCV brother is just that - like a brother to me - and that nothing inappropriate has been going on, despite the presence of a male and female under the same roof. I don't know if it worked, but it can't have hurt. It also helps that he is in fact my host cousin - his host mom and my host mom are sisters - and that I've brought him to lunch at Ama's house before. I figure it all helps.

Anyway, I offered them tea, which they declined, but Jamal disappeared into the kitchen to make tea anyway. I gave them freshly baked chocolate chip cookies - always a guaranteed hit - and we chatted in the living room while Jamal perfected the tea.

I mentioned how grateful I was for the ahrir Ama had sent over last night, and mentioned that Jamal had made "American soup called chili" for me as well. I offered them some, but they insisted that they only wanted a tiny bit, to taste. (They were coming straight from teatime at my cousin Noora's house, where they'd eaten their fill of bread and jam.)

I brought out a bowl and some spoons, and offered it around. Ama swore she loved it, but only wanted a bite because she was so full. My little sister refused it, and the baby was too tiny to try it, but Xalti took a bite as well.

Ama reiterated how much she enjoyed it, and asked if I could wrap some up for her, so that they could have it for dinner tonight. I know there's a chance she was just humoring us, and that she fed it to the cats, but I think she actually liked it. :)

As I was walking into the kitchen to put the chili into a tupperware container for them, Jamal passed me, carrying a tea tray with a teapot, glasses...pretty much everything I'd been lacking at my first tea party. (I've also since acquired a table, so the tea tray didn't have to sit on the ground, like it did last time.)

He poured out the tea while I wrapped up the chili. By the time I brought it back to the living room, take-out style, Ama had taken her first cautious sip of tea and discovered that Jamal actually knew what he was doing.

She told him the story of my tea debacle (which he'd read about just an hour or two before, while wandering my blog), and explained that she had insisted that I buy Moroccan tea and keep it on hand. I assured her that I'd gone out and gotten it that day (though this was in fact the first time the package had been opened), but she seemed a little skeptical.

Ama loves me, but also remains pretty sure that I'm ... a little dim. I can't speak the language all that well, I have the oddest habits (like living alone?? what is that about??), and for pete's sake, I didn't even have Moroccan tea on hand until she'd told me to buy some. Jamal, though, has scored huge points. He makes darned good chili, and truly excellent tea.

As long as he's around, she seems to think, she doesn't have to worry about me. :) As I mentioned in yesterday's post, she was worried about me when she found out that I've been under the weather, and wanted me to call her to come cook for me...unless Jamal is around, in which case I'm clearly going to be fine.

Yeah, he's won her over. :)

Between the chocolate chip cookies and the delicious tea, teatime was actually a complete success. Ama got to check on me and reassure herself that her idiot stepchild wasn't going to die of her own incompetence (which she'd seemed fairly worried about), we had a great conversation, she got to invite me for lunch tomorrow, and I even remembered to give her the rent payment for June. She left with huge smiles on her face, as did Xalti (who y'all might recall is a little harder to please) and the munchkins.

My first teatime, I scored myself a D...nobody died, but nobody was that satisfied, either. This one was at least a B+, and I give full credit to Jamal. [[A grades are reserved for those who offer bread, jam, honey, olive oil, and cookies.]]

Let's hear it for Peace Corps collaboration! ;)

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