Sunday, October 29, 2006

WELCOME.

First things first. We start in the traditional bedouin way. Take off your shoes and leave them in the sand by the door. Then, sit down on the farsha, lean back against the pillows, and have some tea.

Today I have sage tea. All summer I drank mint tea from the Jordanian mint plant beside my front door, but now the cold weather has arrived and the mint isn't growing quite so vigorously. I have a package of sage leaves from the Middle East-- the package proclaims it is the product of الأردن Jordan. Jordanian الميرامية merimeeya. Yes!!!

First, a teabag of ordinary black tea goes into a small teapot, along with a small handful of loose sage leaves (maybe two tablespoons or the amount of leaves in two teabags). Then, the water must be boiling, and is poured over the leaves. The tea steeps for two or three minutes. Then you add sugar; for my teapot I use five of the small, small Arab spoons made especially for adding sugar at the table. Pour some tea out of the teapot into a glass and add it back into the top of the teapot to make sure the tea in the spout is the same as the tea in the pot, and you're ready to drink it.

The Arab welcoming ritual calls for small tea glasses, but beside the keyboard I just have an ordinary ceramic coffee mug. According to bedouin tradition, the guest is allowed to claim hospitality for three and one third days without answering any questions. But let's face it, bedouins are curious and start asking questions the minute they start refilling your tea glass.