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Giraffe meat and coffee breaks for all!

3 Mar


When I was in Hungary, I lived with ten other people. There was chaos, there was drama; there was fun being had at all times; but most importantly, there were coffee breaks. We had a coffee break every day at 10 or 11, and it included a side of fruit and a sweet. No matter where everyone was or how they were feeling, we got together for coffee and treats, dangit!

So much of the world revolves around these times of leisure and food intake, but for some reason, it’s not a thing in the U.S. And why not?! I think the working world would be much more productive if they got together in the afternoon to chat and drink hot beverages. But I digress.

One of those “hot beverage break” countries is Jordan. You guys might remember my world-traveling sister who brought me back awesome Middle-Eastern gifts last year.  Well, next she went to Jordan to volunteer at a tuberculosis hospital (no, I’m not lying, and yes, she’s the modern day Florence Nightingale). She said every day everyone got together for tea, and so she recreated the experience for our family.

Mysterious herbs no one can remember the name of.

Mysterious herbs and seeds.

The tea was actually from Jordan: strong, sweet and black with a hint of mint.  We had bread from the Arab market which we dipped into jam or olive oil. If you chose olive oil, you could then dip into some green herbs that tasted like salty wheat (in a weird, yummy way). The bottle the herbs came in is completely in Arabic and my sister can’t remember what it’s called, so we were all eating an unknown substance possibly containing death and/or giraffe meat (technically, anything COULD contain giraffe meat. You never know). But it was good, so…into my mouth it went!

In other news, she also got black, green and red olives, which I adored because my whole family hates olives and I almost never get to eat them.

Said olives.

Said olives.

There was food and there was tea and I still don’t know why America never got into tea/coffee time. I nominate that we start a movement in favor of it! Like:

#TeaTime4America (Oh. Well. Maybe not that one)

#GimmeABreak4Tea (What do you mean it makes you want chocolate?!)

#PeanutButterJellyTimePEANUTBUTTERJELLYPEANUTBUTTERJE… (what was I doing, again?)

Well, I’m still working on it. Suggestions welcome! 😉


I’d like to buy the world a….Vimto?

27 Jan

The can of Suspicious.

So, I have a sister who goes to international markets and brings me home mystery drinks. Go ahead – be jealous. Now we can get on to business.

What the heck is Vimto? That was my question when I was holding a cold can of it last week. The writing on the can didn’t help – the name was in English, but the description seemed to be in French (“a bubbly, fruit-flavored beverage”) and there was also some sort of Arabic symbol (translation: no idea).

Undeterred by my ignorance, I took a sip. It was…interesting. It tasted like the color maroon, like a mix of sickly sweet berries you might find on a bush in a lonesome desert oasis. It wasn’t quite cough medicine, but it wasn’t far off, either.

A quick google told me that Vimto originated in the U.K. The berry flavor comes from grapes, raspberries and blackcurrants. The drink has had some interesting advertising history: check out this commercial. Maybe it’s a British joke, because I don’t understand a thing.

Vimto is popular in the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia, and apparently it’s drunk a lot during Ramadan. So that explains the Arabic on the can. This particular Vimto can was made with “Sparkling Canadian Water,” so I’m guessing that’s why there’s French as well.

I can’t say I was too enthused by Vimto. I think part of this is because I love sugar. Vimto is sugar-free and makes up for it with a cocktail of “intense sweeteners.” I’m also not used to blackcurrant, and grape flavoring is not my favorite!

In the end, I’m glad to have drunk Vimto. It was an experience. It’s not quite Coke, but if I was dying of thirst and it was the only drink available, I’d “shlurple the purple!”

Gifts from the الشرق الأوسط

29 Jan

News flash: I haven’t been out of the country in eight loooong months.

BUT. My sister and dad visited the “Gulfies” recently (countries in the Middle East near the Persian Gulf) and brought back some goodies to enjoy! I’m sharing a few of them here because they are international, for one, and most have to do with food. Actually, they’re all food-related. My fam knows what I like!

And you thought there wouldn't be coffee involved...ha!

And you thought there wouldn’t be coffee involved…ha!

Out of everywhere they went, Abu Dhabi is hands down the city with the most fun name to say. The capital of the United Arab Emirates, it’s second in size to the more well-known (and flashy!) Dubai. There are 23 Starbucks stores in Abu Dhabi!

The coffee is from Oman (east of Yemen, where coffee was first cultivated) and apparently what a tourist gets when they ask for “the most traditional coffee” available. I have yet to try it, but it’s a very fine ground meant to be brewed in the Turkish style.


Baby espresso cups

When my sister bought the coffee, the seller offered these “espresso cups” along with it. She declined, but the seller insisted and finally gave them to her for free. I conclude that the salesperson, although very nice, is not super great at her job. The cups are really tiny. I make my coffee strong, but I still drink more than a thimbleful! But they were free, and the awesome thing is that they are “Japanese style” cups made in China and sold in Oman. Yep.



Their trip included a stopover in Amsterdam on the way home, which is where my sister picked up the hagelslag (yeah, that ain’t Arabic). I am infamous for loving tiny things, and both of these chocolate goodies are only about two inches tall. Small things make me want to die inside and smile and cry all at the same time (imagine what happened when I saw these at Kroger). I might eat them one day. Or I might just leave them on display and get emotional whenever I see them. Whichever.

Although I’m a little jealous of anyone who travels sans me, the next best thing is hearing about and getting little gifts from the trips of others. What’s the most exciting “souvenir” you’ve received?