I kind of can't believe that I'm actually dedicating an entire blog post to the few meals that we ate at the Toeldano's house. Let me know if it gets too tedious. I hope you can take part in some sort of vicarious gorging experience even if it is.
Count the Cutlery
There weer 3 plates and a bowl. But if you count the plates you will be deceived. There were more than 4 courses. In fact, there were 6. This will serve as the general outline of a meal:
COURSE 1: We begin with Kiddush, then begin with the bowls of nuts and things to say, first, HaEtz, then, Ha'adama. Along with this comes the David's inevitable question of "what would you like to drink"? Options: Wine, white or red? Beer? Whisky and soda? I tried them all (though, unfortunately, not all in one meal). Then Motzi. Then A HUGE platter of all sorts of salads, my favorite of which was the grilled-and-then-sun-dried peppers and pickled lemon. Once this course is over (I'll call all of this the first course, since we used the same plate and utensil), I'm full. Done. Ready to take a nap. But no. There are still two plates, a bowl, two forks, two knives, a big spoon, a little spoon, a little fork, and a little knife with "Borei Peri HaEtz" engraved on it.
COURSE 2: Fish (this time it was patties. Really tasty patties)
COURSE 3: Soup (squash and pumpkin, except one time we had salad instead. with tuna. didn't eat much of that)
COURSE 4: Main Course. This first night it was - get this - two HUGE shoulders of....LAMB. I felt like I had just walked onto the set of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" and I was John Corbett. And its not just lamb. Its lamb and rice and chickpeas and other things that were just heaped on my plate as I looked on dumbly, slackly sitting in my chair, not knowing when to pick up my fork or just stare at it.
COURSE 5: Desert. A huge plate of exotic fruit (some of which came from their garden, including a fruit I'd never seen in my life that tasted a little like a kiwi/banana mix - talk about a shehechiyanu) and a big cake - we got to pick each day which one we would eat. Pineapple, meringue, etc. Whew.
COURSE 6: Two varieties of tea (normal na'ana and wizoo i.e. virvane) coffee, a platter of small cookies and another of dried fruit and nuts. No one eats them. I call this course the "We-still-want-to-sit-around-and-talk" course.
Shabbat Takes Precedence
We ate Schina, the Moroccan (Sephardi) version of Chulent. Its got eggs and chickpeas and rice and very little meat. So much better than Chulent. We actually eat the Baria version of this every week, and, to be honest, I like Baria's better.
The most significant moment of all four meals came during the 2/3 course of this meal. When she brought out The Fish. The Fish, as I will call it from here on out, was 8 kilos, and she brought out the whole of it - head to tail - spiced and lemon-juiced to perfection. I once wrote a blog post about how good things come to those who wait. Its true.
In Egypt we used to go out every Thursday night to this place -- I don't remember the name, we just called in "The Greek Club". It was, indeed, Greek. It had a clean blue-and-white feel, sat right next to the Marina on the Mediterranean beach, and I went for the company and the ambiance but most people went for those things -- and the food. They served fish caught that day, each person got to hand pick their fish, it was spiced and cooked and served in front of them - skinned and de-boned at the table. It looked amazing. And I never so much as tasted it. But then: I ate this fish that Lisette Toledano served. I felt vindicated.
They served couscous. It was delicious. I ate it the Moroccan way, which I'd never done before. not actually with my hands -but straight from the huge steaming mound of couscous. I was therefore able to avoid eating HUGE quantities (and instead ate only VERY LARGE ones). They also had fabulous fried and candied carrots and onions that you could add to your portion, which I did, and enjoyed thoroughly. Then they took away the huge platter of couscous and brought out...not desert, which is what I had been expecting, but RIBS. Yes. I ate ribs. I can't remember the last time I ate ribs. And I think that was the problem. I was rather ill afterward. But it was goooooood while it lasted.
A Note on Breakfasts
They were great. The first day I woke up full. But I managed to put away 2 small pieces of bread - one with hommade jam and one with hommade creamy cheese (not to be confused with cream cheese, which it was not). They had croissants and traditional Moroccan fried bread with honey. Oh, and fresh squeezed orange juce and - truly delicious - brewed coffee.
And finally, from the album Lupe Fiasco's Food and Liquor (I thought it appropriate), I Gotcha.