Friday, September 13, 2013

Birthday Dinner the Saudi Way

I wanted a bit of an adventure for my birthday dinner so we decided to go to a traditional Saudi restaurant called Heritage Village.  We were so excited to embrace the culture and try new things!  And it all started with kicking our shoes off at the door!  Yep, that's what they do here.  We were taken to our private dinning room, took our shoes off at the door,.....
and took a seat on the floor!!!  That's the Saudi way!  The food is usually placed on the floor in the middle of the group!  Some people sit down on the bottoms to eat but I have also see people sit in a squatting position to eat (you will see people often sitting in a squatting position and Brad and I have made the assumption that this position is also the position you use to go potty on the Saudi potties).
Because of the kids, we asked for a mini table to be placed in the middle of our room for the food to be put on.... the kids were running around like crazy.... the idea of taking their shoes off in a restaurant and sitting on the floor was all TOO MUCH to take in.... so my hope was that the table would bring a sense of normalcy to the experience and also keep the kids from running through the plates of food!  This round table sits about a foot and a half off of the floor... perfect height for sitting around!
In the room we probably could have taken our abayas off but once you are out it is just as easy to leave it on.  Plus, the servers are males so we don't want to make them uncomfortable.  It is constantly walking a line of what we are comfortable with and what the people around us are comfortable with.
Bring in the food!  And yes, Ethan has his shirt off..... we ordered a yogurt/ cucumber dip to eat with the naan bread but Ethan was eating it with a spoon and loving it.... and making a mess... and we had plans to do some shopping after dinner so.... off with the shirt!
Ordering was an experience and not because we are not willing to try new things but because we have NO idea what anything is and nothing comes with a description beside it so we have no idea what we get until we get it!  Here are the 3 traditional dishes we ordered.  The big dish is
Kapsa (Chicken and Rice).  Super yummy.  The circle dish had several different items on it.  It had a piece of lamb (lamb and chicken are very popular meats over here), grilled veggies, some of the rice that was served with the kapsa (the rice is more of a milky flavor over here),and a curry dish.  The little bowl is harees.  What is harees... it is a chicken porridge.  Interesting.  You know when your brain is thinking one thing and your mouth taste something different.... that's what happened when I took my first bite.  After a couple of bites it grew on me but it wasn't my favorite dish by far.  However, Ethan LOVED this dish!  He hasn't had much experience with oatmeal in the past so maybe that is one reason he loved it more than any of us, he didn't have any preconceived notions about how porridge should taste!
After our yummy dinner, we took a look around the restaurant and went upstairs to its museaum.  See the big picture of the king hanging on the wall.... you will find a photo of him in most establishments!  Also, to the left of the stairs is a booth selling incense and perfumes.  Most families have their "own" scent that they wear.... I think that is one thing that is hard for my senses.... ALL of the strong smells that the women wear.... anyway, I'm not sure if they are buying incense here to burn in their private rooms or what but stuff like this is available everywhere.
Snapping a quick pic with my hubby.  I do try to be aware of the Saudis lack of love for cameras which is why the other picture wasn't great.... it is hard to secretly take a picture of something I want to and get a great pic... especially when it is dark like it was in this building.  I'm sure the longer I'm here, the braver I'll get!
The top floor has a museum upstairs that we checked out!  Lots of great items from back in the day and tons of pictures documenting the history of the king(s)!
This little guy is starting to love the camera!  When he sees it he says, "Cheese!' or "Effie, Effie" like, take a picture of me!  How can I not have a perfect birthday when surrounded by my little ham(s)!
Jewelry is also big here.  Here is jewelry that is over 100 years old
 After looking around the museum, we went to check out the store.  So many fun things to buy....
What are you looking at???  Am I not suppose to be touching things in the store????
Is this hat.... or bowl for you table!!!  He is always making outings challenging fun!
By the end of the adventure, we were done but still had shopping to do.  I wanted to get a quick family picture before leaving... should have done it BEFORE we went inside... see how happy my kids are that we didn't buy the "hat" and 7 other things they found in the store they wanted! : )  That's okay, arms crossed or not... I still got my picture! : )
And of course I had to get my picture of the front of the building, it is SO pretty.  Then I made the huge mistake... I was waiting for a Saudi family to get out from in front of the building so I could take my picture and I saw them talking about my camera so I tried to hurry and take a quick photo (with a flash) and didn't even realize a woman was walking out at the same time as I was taking my photo.  Oops!  I heard everyone talking so I just quickly walked to our car so I didn't cause more of a scene!  All of these little things, it is ALL part of the experience.  We were talking with our friends at dinner about how it is hard to put into words what things are like... I can just try my best with this blog but until you are here taking it ALL in.... all of the senses..... it is hard to fully understand.  All I know is, that was the perfect way for my to celebrate my birthday the Saudi way!

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