Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Portrait #90: He called me fat, but not very fat

Last night we - that is, a big group of internationals - were sitting at an upscale restaurant in Old Damascus, on the rooftop overlooking the Roman arches marking the middle of the old city and the ancient Greek Orthodox Church to the side.

Over the last month, we have had many such evenings, so as idyllic and lovely as it was, we were somewhat uninspired by the view and absolutely uninspired by the menu: kebab, hummos and fattoush are good, but they do lose their lustre over time.

So when my roommate and I noticed that there was a "snacks" menu in addition to the dinner menu, we took a look, hoping to find something different. What caught our eyes was, of all things, home-churned butter with sugar. We've had every dip imaginable for bread during the last month, but butter has been quietly and rather tragically forgotten. So we decided to order a dish of butter and sugar to share.

Here is what happened:

I turned to the waiter and asked him if the butter and sugar is good.

He stared at me, then looked down at the notepad into which he was writing the orders, then furrowed his brow and went "hmmm."

So I asked again.

He then spoke: "So one order of butter and sugar for the two of you, hmmm", as he wrote it down hesitantly.

So I queried, "Is it not good? Do you recommend something else?" After all, we were looking forward to our butter but we weren't yet fully sold on it.

He glanced up and peered over his notepad, pen tapping on paper, and replied, "Are you on a diet at all? Because, you know... butter is..."

I let out a little giggle and replied, "Why? Do you think either one of us is fat?" Please note, neither one of us is fat, nor concerned about being mistaken as fat.

And he replied, I kid you not: "Well, not too much."

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