Saturday, June 27, 2015

A New Adventure in the Middle East

Once more, I have experienced something in my life I never dreamed I would experience.

Certainly, the Middle Eastern culture has offered me a myriad of experiences that have enriched and added to the spice in my life. I am loving all of it.

Saturday night was another new adventure. We attended an Iftar with over 20 of friends.

During Ramadan, two main meals are served: the Suhoor, which is served before dawn, and the Iftar, which is served after sunset.

Many Muslims spend most evenings with their family for their Iftar. Occasionally they go to homes of their friends. It is really a time to spend with family and friends showing how much you love and value them.

We know a lot of other expats without family here in Bahrain so we are having a great time inviting them to our home to share in the spirit of Ramadan.

At the end of the day, when the sun sets, the maghrib prayer starts, and the day's fast is broken with the Iftar meal. Many Muslims break their fast by eating dates before beginning the Iftar meal.

Here is my "spread" with samples of the types of foods that are eaten in the Middle East to break fast. These represent several countries because there are many different nationalities in Bahrain. Most are sweet.

I took advantage of the grocery store where they have a wonderful “date bar” with many varieties of dates.  We had 8 kinds of dates at our flat for our guests when they arrived.

Here are the dates we served:  Saudi Mabroom Dates, Saudi Safawi Dates, Saudi Ajwah Dates, Saudi Khudri Dates, Bahrain Fardh Dates, Saudi Sofry Dates, Jordan Majdoul Dates and Saudi Suquei Dates.

I put out a scorecard and asked everyone to rate his or her “favorite date.” On the scorecard I specified to not vote for their spouse. Of course, hubbie D is my favorite date.

The winning date was the Saudi Sofry date.

Living across the street from the Ritz-Carlton, every night during Ramadan we watch people coming to the Iftar tent for their evening meal.

Before sunset the cars start streaming into the parking lot. The lights come alive on the palms leading down the path to the tent and a steady stream of Arabs head in to break their fast.

Cars arriving at the Ritz Ramadan tent.

Last year I was intrigued and decided to plan an evening where I could experience a Ramadan Iftar with some of my friends.

This activity is such a strong part of the Arab culture that I felt we needed to experience an Iftar while we are living here.

It was not difficult to put together a nice group.  It seems that I am not the only person who would like to experience an Iftar.

Before we went to the Iftar tent at the Ritz, we all gathered at our flat just across the street. We enjoyed some of the traditional “break your fast” foods to go along with our cocktails.

The ladies wore the traditional jellabiya. This made for a lovely picture.

Although the guys went "western," they still looked good.
Here is our group just before sunset when we headed to the Ritz.
Yes, this is my new dress. 
We were quite the site strolling through the parking lot.
We chose to sit in the "non-smoking" area. The area filled with shisha pipes was located just to the right beyond our tables.
Coffee and mint tea waited for us when we arrived. They were delicious. 
The Italian chef made a point of brining some risotto to my table because it was not quite ready when I passed by him. It was fabulous. We have dined in the Italian restaurant at the Ritz and it is wonderful.
Salads were abundant. There was also a nice sushi assortment.
This lamb dish was similar to the mansaf we had in Jordan. It was good however the dish in Jordan was much better. Maybe the atmosphere in Jordan had something to do with that. It would be hard to beat the fun we had in Jordan. 
Deserts were a big hit.
Some of the deserts even had eatable gold flecks on them.
Hubbie D was thrilled with the gelato bar for dessert.
Of course I had to attempt a selfie inside the tent and outside.
DW and I tried but we could not capture the beautiful surroundings.
The street and walkways were all it up. 

After dinner, we strolled (stuffed and happy) back to our flat for cigars and wine. We had some wonderful conversation and finished the evening consuming DW’s Bailey’s Irish Crème. It was perfect.

Another box to check in our adventure log.  And, it was exceptionally fun to share it with some many lovely friends.


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