People here in Egypt are incredibly nice. “Welcome to Egypt!” everyone says when they first meet you. Everyone we meet loves my children. Taxis will block traffic when they see me standing nervously by the side of the road with my giant stroller. (Given how awful traffic is, that blocking of traffic is an incredible gift of grace for this still-nervous Mamma.) The doorman kisses my boys while reciting short blessings every time we come home. (Yes, I’m trying to not be germaphobic with the kissing. I don’t know that there is a culturally appropriate way to say no kissing my children.)
The neighbor upstairs has sent us food three times now – first it was a box of cookies with dates for Eid, then a pastry with tuna and peppers, then a lovely cherry cake. It was all pretty yum. That gave rise to a dilemma – how do we reciprocate? We still have a pretty limited kitchen here – no decent pots and pans, no baking supplies, no sharp knives, no cookbooks. We settled on oatmeal raisin cookies. One of our favorite recipes is on the oatmeal box, and it didn’t require any exotic ingredients or specialized kitchen equipment.
But oh, how I miss my mixer. “Cream the butter and sugar together” has never been so painful. I used one of the cheap forks supplied in our “welcome” kit. The edges on that handle is sharp, and trying to cream butter and sugar left permanent gouges in my palm. I stirred in the flour – ever so grateful when the last half cup was mixed in, and then realized I still had to mix in three (3!) cups of oats. You would think that would be an obvious step given that they are after all oatmeal cookies. I almost cried. I am a wimp, especially if I think of how my grandmother kneaded loaves and loaves of bread, mixed cookies, and did all kinds of other things without any fuss or specialized kitchen equipment.
Cookies were baked, many were consumed, and some will be delivered to our generous neighbor later today. Welcome to Egypt, indeed.