The scents of home wafted in the air. I could smell the kibbee, falafel, shawarma and kabab cooking in the food tent. I was so giddy, and I couldn’t wait until I got my favorite comfort foods to sample for lunch. And I got a lot of variety to sample for sure! There was tabouleh, warak dawali, hummus, kefta, spinach pies, gherribeh, baklava, just to name a few. I was going to have to come back for something to different to try the next day.
I was so happy to see my Aunt Rhonda busy working with the food because that’s how I knew it was going to be delicious. I also was excited to see my cousins working on the grill. This was my home and not only did I fill up with the food, but also with an enormous pride of my family and heritage.
The food was exactly as I expected: Incredible! I sat with my cousins and talked and ate until I could not take another bite. Then the entertainment started. Of course, we were on Arabic time, so everything ran late. The belly dancers hit the stage and they were getting the crowd into it, asking them to participate and dance with them. Next was the dancing girls’ troupe that performed a beautiful routine with colorful flags and outfits that jingled with coins.
There was also a wonderful live band that entertained the people with classic Arabic songs. I would look into the crowd and see a lady lip-syncing. She knew all the words, but the best part about it was the attitude she had when singing. The facial expression of pain or love, bobbing her head from side to side with a little shoulder shrug, putting emphasis on every word, it was almost better watching her than the dancers or the band.
My heart was overflowing and I felt at peace with the world. As all the fighting in Gaza is too horrifying to process, many in attendance celebrated their heritage and we all came together in unison to raise money for the church. There is a time and place for politics, but I decided to focus on the simple pleasures of food, family and fun for one weekend in the summer.