Every Wednesday night, to start off the weekend, my mother-in-law hosts a dinner for the women of the family. It’s like a girls’-night-in, but without the wine and chick flicks. Her daughters and daughters-in-law are the regulars, along with their daughters and pre-teen sons. The men have otherwise gone out (escaped?) for the evening. Everyone gets dressed up (think fancy blouses and floor-length skirts, although hemlines have been slo-owly, slightly rising over the past couple of years) and the party gets going at around 8:30 or 9 pm. To be honest, I have been to, perhaps, only a handful of Saudi homes for such dinner parties, but from my experience, they all follow a typical format.
The evening begins with Arabic coffee (light coffee flavored with cardamom) and a whole assortment of pastry sweets, chocolates, and meaty, fresh dates. Quite delectable. And I love the idea of having dessert before dinner. Dinner is usually served about an hour later, around 10 or 10:30 pm, and it might be something like this:
You definitely will never go hungry if you are a guest in a Saudi’s home! This was the first girls’-night-in party I attended and to show appreciation for the guest of honor (who was me that evening), my mother-in-law had a feast of a whole lamb prepared – see if you can spot the lamb’s head in this photo. It was great (the food, not the head). Growing up in an Asian household, I only knew of plain rice. The rice here is flavored with fragrant spices, including cumin, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon bark, and dried lime (loomi). The lamb meat is fall-off-the-bone tender and soft. Good thing that the sweets were served before dinner because there is definitely no room for dessert after these feasts.