Friday, July 15, 2005

Speaking of unique dining

Sue's latest post reminded me of a superb experience I had while abroad. It was April and considered to be winter in Western Africa. I was in a country called Mauritania (not related to Mauritius although it would be great if I were there). It is where the famous Sahara desert is, a mere 400 kilometres from the capital of Mauritania.

On one of the days, our host invited us for dinner at his house. It was a sumptous meal with portions of food so huge that we could hardly stay awake that night. Dinner was set on the floor, that being their culture.

We started off with baskets of bread and a large plate of salad. Here's a closer look at it. We hardly touched it. Not because it wasn't any good, it was just too huge. It came in a mountainful and we had cleared the top of it already.

Then came the giant fish. It was as big as the plate that held the salad. Unbelievable! We did a bit better with the fish because our host kept going round to pile them on our plates.

That was not the end of the huge servings. Next came 2 whole grilled lambs! I am not sure if we felt more terror than excitement seeing the amount of food we were obliged to finish as good guests. Pictured below is one of the lambs we worked on.

For dessert we had fruits. Even the fruit bowls came in extra large sizes. We also had plenty to drink - bottles of mineral water were handed out, jugs of hibiscus juice, jugs of baobab fruit juice (baobab is a kind of desert tree which strangely enough, bears fruits) and countless servings of the Mauritanian hot and sweet mint tea. The tea was poured into glasses that are smaller than the size of an espresso cup. At every half hour interval, the tea would be brought out.

After that big meal, our very hospitable host showed and encouraged us to practice their way of relaxing - the way life should be. With that posture and lots of food in the stomach, it was a challenge to stay awake, not to mention it was way past 11pm.


boo_licious said...

Wow, that looked like a real feast. I like the way they relax after the meal. Must adopt that way next time.

Sue said...

Makes you feel like king right? And all that servants coming round to serve you...