I had just gotten home from Bahrain and put on my pajamas to try and catch up on my sleep, when my phone rang. It was Senait, my Eritrean friend, inviting me for dinner. I was exhausted. Wanted nothing more to sleep, but I heard myself say yes.
She told me they would pick me up at 8:00 p.m. so I crawled into bed to nap and crawled out by 7:30 p.m. through my hair in a ponytail, threw on some clothes and went downstairs to meet my ride.
Senait had confided in me that her dream is to one day open a restaurant. She had been living with her sister and she just recently saved enough money to move out on her own. So we were having dinner in her new place.
It was in a large apartment building in Hawally and as I was walking up the stairs I saw several people that I knew on their way in. As I entered her apartment the first thing I noticed was there was almost no furniture. The living room had a small couch and one chair, but then blankets had been folded on the floor so people could sit. The entire apartment was lacking in furniture, including their bedrooms, and they had suitcases stacked on the floor, I don’t even think they even had beds. She is sharing the apartment with Seham and they are looking for a third roommate even though it is only a two bedroom.
Cocab and her niece
In the kitchen there was an assortment of dishes, just odds and ends and three gas burners on the floor that she was cooking on.
We sat around for awhile and the men smoked and then they started spreading plastic wrap on the floor as a table. Senait brought out large crepe-like bread and a large pot filled with red sauce, hard-boiled eggs and chickens. Then she also brought out a pot of what looked like spaghetti, but it tasted so much better than spaghetti. She placed a large crepe on the plate and then poured the chicken and egg dish, which is called Zeghni on top of it. Then she put on a dollop of yogurt and some spaghetti. She had forks, but the food was basically eaten with the crepe and it was all delicious.
Senait had invited her family and I met her two sisters Cocab and Zane. Zane is married to a veterinarian and has two children, a boy around 3 and a new baby. Senait was dressed traditionally in a long white dress with a blue neckline and her hair held back by a scarf. All the women bustled around serving the men and me, while the men sat back to be served and smoked.
Making the coffee
For dessert she served a plate of popcorn with no butter or seasoning with chocolates. And they made the traditional coffee. Jordanos who normally makes it at the center wasn’t there; I guess she had her appendix out. But Senait made it, first she roasted the beans and then she ground it and put it in the pottery jugs and then she kept adding water to the jugs and removing coffee and adding more water.
After dessert and coffee they started dancing. Traditional dance is in a circle and they shake their shoulders, it looks easy, but it is actually very difficult. We danced and hung out for a while and then finally they took me home around 1:00 p.m. everyone else was going to the Community Center, but after Bahrain I was cashed.
I think I’ll get Senait something for her restaurant for Christmas. I’m still dreaming about the food.