Sunday, 11 January 2009

One slightly rainy afternoon...

I can't believe they call *that* rain.
The day naturally started off with me waking at 1pm ish. My sleeping patterns are non existent, but seeing that all the other iraqis around me also have insomnia and a general inability to sleep normally, I realised its because no one knows what this year will bring.

I sit at the pc now, chatting as well as typing. In the UK, i remember distinctly not seeing the point of chat. People would have arguments over chat, and not speak the next day etc etc, and i would think "cowards, talk in real life". But, in Iraq, chat is now more common to me, . My friends from when i lived here constantly bombard me with questions over the choices i now have ahead of me, and i am beginning to see the use of the invisibility mode. My friends from the UK ask me such questions as "do you hear the bombings of afghanistan from baghdad?", and "so, are you speaking in islam, and not english now?". I try to explain that afghanistan is not a neighbour to iraq, and islam is a religion, and the reply i get: "so, how are the boys then?". Invisibility goes on, and i remind myself to send them an email apologising for the bad connections...(they are bad, so really i'm not lying).

On a better note, mobile connection seems to have improved a lot, and since having managed to convince iraqna guys to give me free mobile internet after 9pm, the world doesnt seem such a bad place after all.

Sorry for sidetracking, basically, i awoke from my sleep, found we had male guests, who sat in the tv room discussing voting, corruption, and society. So no tv for touta. After wandering aimlessly around the house, occasionally picking arguments with my little sister for no apparent reason, other than i was bored, my grandmother came with bags of food, and suggested me and my sister start to learn how to cook something that was not microwaveable.

LESSON 1: Never say no to your nana when she is holding the knife

I have no idea why we were learning how to make trifle. i expected something more along the lines of 'how to boil an egg' or even 'how to fry an egg' if we were being adventerous.
My nana ripped open bags of jelly, custard and other things with a grossly oversized knife. Ah, baghdadiy women.

LESSON 2: jelly=hot water+ jelly powder. Its not hard(!)

I read the instructions on the jelly packet, and added how much boiling water it said. It smelt good. While waiting for it to cool, i threw some fruit into a galss trifle bowl. No one was impressed. I'm supposed to arrange it nicely. Fast forward 5 minutes, and i have managed to arrange the fruit 'nicely' in the glass bowl. Its a shame the fruit is now more of a puree though. In my annoyance i accidently pressed the fruit down into the bowl a bit too viciously, and it resembles goo.
Suddenly I hear a loud CRACK, then a shattering sound. We all jump, but my sister remains unmoved as she says "Uh oh". I giggle uncontrollably as i realise my sister has placed boiling hot jelly in the glass bowl. The glass bowl has cracked and shattered. My mother walks around looking for a broom, while my nana tries to make me stop giggling because it is 'ayb' and might offend the guests.

Lesson 3: Curdling the Custard

My sister has stolen half my jelly, but thankfully i stopped her from messing up my 'nice' arrangement of fruit in the glass bowl.
Me and my sister are each given a packet of custard powder and milk. Read instructions. Argue with sister over measuring jug, then place everything on the cooker. We are specifically told to never stop stirring.
Fifteen minutes later...My sister has burnt her custard and doesn't have the guts to tell anyone or do anything. I stand next to her supressing giggles. I look down and realise my custard is still thinner than water. Its on full heat.
I have a stroke of genius, and tell my sister to mix her overly thick custard with my overly thin one. We are trying our best not to laugh so they don't find out. I can feel my lips hurting as I bite them down to stop bursting from laughter. Behind us, my nana is telling my mother how its not our fault, since we have been to busy with out 'intensive education'.

LESSON 4: Making Weep

We each silently pour our custard in bowls on top of jelly. Next its time to make the cream whip. (pronounced weep). We mix and mix viciously as mama and nana say ''ala kaefkoum'' (translation-kind of like carefully). Mine goes well, and i smooth it over the custard, and add little decoration things. My sisters is runny, and she has eaten most of her decoration things. A silent battle follows of me trying to get my decorations back from my sister. We turn our backs to our judges and use our eyes to give threatening looks to each other.

LESSON 5: Tidy Touta

After putting glass bowls in the fridge, we have to clean up our mess. My sister politely asks if we can have the kitchen emptied so she can tidy. I am in charge of dishes. I start listening to my mp3 and using an obscene amount of washing up liquid. What can i say..i like the bubbles. Ten minutes later, my sister is tapping me laughing, i take out the headphones, and it takes 5 minutes until i can understand what she is saying from her laughter. I was making so much clattering, that the guests had been wondering if there was fighting. I turn around and spy on them in th tv room. They have gotten up, and are looking through the window. Oops.

LESSON 6: It tastes like burn

My stroke of genius was not so clever it seems. By mixing my sisters custard with mine, my custard now tastes of burnt. When i didnt burn it.
Well, at least mine looks good.
I have also learnt to cook with my sister. It makes me look so much better by comparison. :D

An hour later, as we all sit around the table, with abandoned bowls of trifle, my mama says "its probably cheaper to buy it ready made anyway".


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

My nana ripped open bags of jelly, custard and other things with a grossly oversized knife. Ah, baghdadiy women. hhhh
glad to know u were cooking or trying to.

Touta said...

i wasnt trying! i was cooking! and it looked nice! fa haa.


its not abt how it looked only, how was the taste? :)

C.H. said...

At one time, I thought I would never be able to cook anything, but I have managed to learn how to fry eggs, haha, and the occasional steak :D

I guess it just takes practice, right?

BD, how has the situation been for you in Baghdad?

Jeffrey said...


When I was growing up, my father had a very detailed system for washing dishes. Every few years he would refine it a little more. We ate in the kitchen, so while Dad was drinking a cup of coffee after dinner he would constantly hover over our shoulders to see if we were doing all the procedures correctly. I was shocked when I visited other families and discovered that they didn't use the same multi-step methods we had to use every day.

By the way, because I come from a family of seven siblings, we would have ten sitting down to eat for every breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I recall washing four drainers of dishes for almost every meal, looking out the window in summer and watching my friends already playing. All of my siblings have those memories and stories of my father's bizarre dish-washing techniques.

Today if I use too much dishwashing liquid I do so with a guilty pleasure.


Miss Violet said...

Touta, How are you , girl?? I liked reading your post - like always- it reminded me of myself with my first lessons of cooking ... I'll tell a story .. once mama put a chicken on the cooker in the early morning … she determined to switch it off after 3/4 of the hour before she went work .. UNFOURTUANTLY for the poor chicken she FORGOT to turn it off after the assumed time .. After nearly 5 hours I returned from school ( when I was in school). And I smelt a very BAD and DISGUSTING smell , what made me wonder that whenever I approached the kitchen the smell became more disgusting.. then I innocently opened the door of the kitchen then I saw the smoke volatilizing from the poor chicken .. I hurriedly opened the cover of the pot … and guess what??? The poor chicken was BADLY BURNED with burns class a … and death absolutely .hhhhhhh… I opened any window that my hand could get to.hhhhhhhh
By the way .. I liked your idea of mixing the two custard together … hahaha
Stay safe Touta.. I wish your next custard will be THICKER !

Touta said...

taste is not the most important thing

i doubt we are going to be allowed to 'practise' for a verrry long time

lucky you. our parents taught us *nothing* of tidiness or washing dishes, and then complain to the world and its mother of how lazy and messy we are, when we never mess anything up- we were the boring types of children who thought reading was cool.

miss violet,
i laughed so much at your story i had to tell my mother...she sometimes burns stuff and blames it on me because i talked to much lol.
poor chicken!
The mixing the custard was a good idea, but if only my sister didnt burn her custard it would taste good!!
keep safe, and be happy! exams will be over soon for you as well!

khalid jarrar said...

**takes out his little daftar from his pocket and writes down in tiny font**

note to self: Touta is never to be allowed into the kitchen if she ever visits.

**takes off glasses, puts back dafter in its little place, signs of relief appears on his face**

khalid jarrar said...

and seriosuly, who told you are allowed to sleep and not reply to comments right away?

**hatha il smily mal il skype il3a9abi illy y9eer a7mer o yonfokh ila an y6og**

C.H. said...


3ada shay'un jameel! Maybe Touta needs to be kept away from the kitchen :D

I'm just kidding, Touta. I'm sure that any one of us would have eaten your custard if you had made it for us :)

Next time, you will do much better, just like Violet says. If it helps, I burned a waffle this morning. Lol, at least I was able to make cereal the right way.

C.H. said...

hmmm...what I meant to say was "hada shay'un jameel". Another one of those things that takes practice ;)

Touta said...

*touta comes, and rips daftar apart, burns it, and smiles.*

I dont believe not for a *second* that you can cook. so there. :D
hhhhh. zain, ahib bas 3 saat noum anyway.

*Note to self: blame shortiness on khalid in future.* :D

i believe you would have eaten my trifle...if you had a death wish. :D

khalid jarrar said...


that is so not true!

in the matter of fact, i can make eggs, both fried AND boiled, and i can, just for your information, prepare a fantastic dish of chicken and herbs with honey, and mash potato on the side. all from scratch. and i can actually make a very good tabsi, as in 9eeniyyat poteta o 6ama6a o la7am and all, all from scratch too, and just to further impress you, miss Touta, i can actually make...
Well.. i can't remember anything else to impress you with i think i said them all :P

Oh Oh! but i have a much more important talent, i can always locate a restaurant opened at 2 am and willing to serve good food. which i do practice often ;)

C.H. said...

Not sure if you have noticed, but your tunes bear seems to think you are still known as Nakhaly, lol :)

Touta said...


*prepare yourself*
okay okay, fine, i admit are better at me in cooking. And as for the tebsi- i prefer bebsi. :D
I am tempted to say- well i know how to operate any microwave:)
Restaurants at 2am?!Pffft. Your cooking must be so *good* that you have to wonder at 2am to find food.

too lazy to change it...and i think narcissim is a cool word. i think it means selfish or something. :D touta's tunes does have a ring to it though..

C.H. said...


Here is the definition of narcissism:

"The term narcissism means love of oneself, and refers to the set of character traits concerned with self-admiration, self-centeredness and self-regard. Narcissism describes the trait of excessive self-love, based on self-image or ego."

Haha, does this define you? LOL!