Wednesday, November 10, 2010

On Winning Grandma's Favor

Latifa’s mother, whom I call LALLA was the first to treat me like a part of the family. One night way back in 2008 she asked me to do the dishes after dinner. I'll never forget that night, because that’s when I knew I was in...accepted. The rest of the family soon followed suit. Except for the other grandma.

Said’s mother, MIMA, has taken the entire two-and-a-half years of our acquaintance to warm up to me. She is extremely critical (to my face), and has never really understood why the family keeps me around. Whenever she came around I’d always ask Latifa, “Is she going to be nice to me this time?” The answer was always “probably not” so I mustered my very best good-humoredness and settled into an afternoon of listening to why I will never find someone to marry me.

For the past couple weeks Mima has been staying with the family. I’ve been going there a lot too, spending as much time with them as possible before I leave. Slowly but surely Mima and I have been growing on each other. I greet her with kisses when I enter the room. I ask about her health. I listen to her recite Moroccan proverbs, which I really enjoy. I win points when I help Latifa in the kitchen or clear the table and do dishes after dinner. But the real test came yesterday.

After lunch Mima asked Soukaina to make tea. Unfortunately, Souks was about to leave for school. Mima then asked if “the girl” knows how to make tea. That means me. I told her I’d be happy to make it. The rest of the family tried to dissuade me: “Are you sure you want to do this...make tea for Mima?” I knew that if she didn’t like it, she’d say so. We’d have to take the tea back to the kitchen, and Latifa or Dounia would have to remake it...correctly. But I was determined.

There’s more to making Moroccan mint tea than boiling some water and pouring it over a tea bag. It’s a process. And if I messed it up, I’d never have a chance to win Mima’s good favor. I was nervous. Can you blame me?

I went to the kitchen and started the kettle boiling. While the water boiled I got out the B'RED. It’s not just a teapot. It’s a b’red.

I put 2 scoops of tea hboub – loose green tea “seeds” – into the b’red. Once the water was boiling in the kettle I poured it over the tea. I turned down the flame and put the b’red on it. Once the tea had boiled a little bit I added the sugar – 4.5 scoops – and let it boil again. Finally, the mint. I added the mint at the very end, to infuse it into the tea without burning it.

Then I prayed.

I carried the b’red on a tray with 6 small tea glasses and set it on the table. I sat on the couch and poured, lifting the b’red up high as I poured the hot tea into each glass. I’m not sure why you do that, but that’s just how you pour tea. Everyone watched silently. They were nervous for me, which made me even more nervous.

I distributed the glasses to Mima, Latifa, Dounia, and Hamza. They all held their breath for me as Mima took her first sip. “That’s it,” she said.

It was as it should be. Success.

“It’s masous,” Dounia said, meaning not sweet enough.

I almost got whiplash when I snapped my head around to shoot her a look of death. She winked at me.

“No it’s not!” Mima defended my tea, “it’s exactly right.”

The rest of the family exchanged congratulatory smiles for me. I was glowing.

“You just might find a husband after all.”


Kristi said...

Hahaha! And isn't that what we all want to hear: "You just might find a husband after all!" So glad there's hope for you, Megan!

Barbara said...

Beautiful. Please make me some of your famous tea when you come visit me :)

Anonymous said...

hope to tast your mint Tea Megan
really it was an amazing story to live in :=)
swétô T Héàrt (Ali kassass)