Less of the cross-cultural feminist musings… let’s talk about cake.
Well more correctly, sweet things. FF used to have a slogan on her facebook page declaring that she would ‘never hold back on all the sweet things life has to offer’. And in Damascus, it was almost impossible to hold back.
This is a city where pudding is always vast and complimentary.
So on my first day, after I had I stuffed myself full of lovely lemony tabouleh, baba ganoush and chicken shish taouk, all served with tanoor – Syrian flatbread – at Al Khawali, until I thought I could eat no more, the waiter came out with a plate of fruit and small, sweet and sticky pistachio nut pastries, saying as he placed them on the table ‘These are free for you.’
Given my history with buffets, and the fact that every meal I ate in Damascus was like my own personal mini-buffet, I instantly regretted eating so much of my first course. But I didn’t let that stop me getting to work on dessert.
Having a fairly short-lived short-term memory, the following day, I did the same thing, this time in a highly recommended and fairly swanky restaurant called Naranj. There I ordered a deliciously salty egg salad, hummous and a northern Syrian speciality, lamb kebab in sour black cherry sauce. All of this with warm pitta straight from the oven that was brought round periodically in baskets for us to help ourselves to.
Sitting back satisfied, looking sadly at the food I had been unable to eat, the table was cleared and out came a platter of fruit and another of pastires – some looked deep fried, with cream, and others were the sweet pistachio nut ones that are so more-ish. My belly groaned in expectation of the continued eating it wasn’t fully prepared for.
On my final day, I had been invited to join the hotel’s PR Director for lunch. She literally ordered EVERYTHING off the menu for me to try. O and it was all so so so good, so savoury, so slippy, so extensive. This time we got a plate of pastries each. My joy was made utterly complete.