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the world, becomes preferable to that of fresh butter, by acquired taste. The Arabs, too, are passionately fond of all sorts of preparations of milk, and especially of curds - and - whey ; they rarely drink the pure milk of the cow, and indeed esteem it injurious. Of goat's-milk and ewe’s-milk they consume a great deal in different fashions. But of all sorts of milk the most prized is that of the camel, which they give even to their horses, esteeming it better for them than barley; and believing that for horse and man alike it is the most strengthening of all kinds of diet.
Such is the broad and simple basis of an Arab's meal; to which may be added, in the case of richer folk, roasted mutton (el kebch mechoui), or roasted fowl, partridge, &c. And Arabs are pronounced by General Daumas to be the first rôtisseurs in the world. There may be also the kibab, consisting of pieces of mutton roasted on a skewer; or the terbiya, a stew of mutton, with eggs and tomatoes ; el hhamiss, another kind of mutton-stew; el mekhetter, a fricassee of fowl, with garbanzos; the dolma, a dish of meat stuffed with vegetables, and seasoned highly with Cayenne pepper; or there may be el beraniya, one of the triumphs of the Arab cuisine--a breast-ofmutton cut-up in pieces and arranged with butter, eggs, wild-artichokes, grated cheese, and spices; el kabama, a stew of mutton again, to which parsley and onions give the prevailing flavour.
Leaving unnoticed other dishes which form the pièces de résistance of an Arab dinner, it may be mentioned that soups also are not wanting to the hospitality of a rich Arab. Nor is the Arab pastry-cook altogether contemptible in the way of cakes and sweetmeats : the crowning glory of his workmanship is said to consist in the sebaa el aaroussa—the 'finger of the bride ;' a sweetmeat most in renown at Bagdad, but which is said to be unknown in Algeria.
The Arabs, moreover, eat fruit in abundance, and generally not quite ripe. Grapes are the most prized of fruit; then come melons, cucumbers, figs, oranges, lemons, pomegranates, apples, pears, cherries, peaches, apricots, dates. Dates ought to be eaten either with the cousscoussou or with milk, otherwise they are not wholesome.
All account of Arab gastronomy would be incomplete without notice of the locust, which is the prawn of the desert ; but which must be taken alive and killed by Mussulmans to be fit to be eaten by Mussulmans. They are stripped of their heads, their wings, and their claws, and then roasted or boiled with the cousscoussou. Horses are very fond of them, and for horse and man they are considered nourishing food.
Coffee is a luxury for the rich alone ; the great mass of the Arabs never taste coffee. It is served with the grounds and with the foam of ebullition on the surface; and those who have become habituated to the Eastern way of preparing coffee return to the coffee of Europe with some disappointment.
Of such viands will the meal of the guest of the Arab tent be composed. Women, as is well known, never appear before strangers; indeed the latter, if he knows the rules of Arab etiquette, will never even talk of women to his host; and this not only out of regard to the host himself, but because the wife may very probably be on the other side of the curtain which separates the man's compartment from the woman's in every tent, and when jealousy would infallibly be excited by stories of too lively a nature about Ayesha or Nedjema. Yes, the Arab's wife is in all probability there behind the curtain, curiously watching the stranger and his habits, after having superintended the preparation of his meal. French officers, who have partaken of the hospitality of Arab tents, have in fact sometimes heard something very like a titter going on behind the curtain, which was supposed to be caused by the clumsiness with which they sat down to supper.
For it is not easy for a European in tight pantaloons, and with straps, to assume the seat on the carpet in Oriental fashion without making a rather ridiculous figure in the course of his descent to the ground, as General Daumas found on one occasion when invited to dine by a powerful marabout — Sidi Mohammed benn Haoua. But the difficulty of tight pantaloons and straps was not the only one experienced by General Daumas; at the moment of sitting down, he perceived that at the dinner to which he was invited, there were no seats, no bottles, and no glasses — not even a plate or a knife or a spoon. There was no apparatus for dining at all; for the whole race of cutlers and manufacturers of crockery and glass-ware would infallibly have to take to another line of business, if the world were to adopt Arab habits.
The dining-table, or rather dining-carpet of leather, the sefra, was laid in the middle of the tent on the ground, and there was nothing whatever thereon, when the guests squatted down on all sides of it, like tailors about to go to work. How was the French general, after having surmounted the difficulty of pantaloons and straps, to eat his dinner? He hit at last upon the plan of observing his neighbours, two venerable gentlemen with white beards, who could not refrain at times from exchanging an ironical smile, which the general interpreted thus : 'How will the Infidel get on here ?'
The cousscoussou then made its appearance in a large wooden platter, and each of the guests plunged the finger and thumb of his right hand into the mess, made a little ball of it, and tossed it into his mouth. The general followed the example of his neighbours. After this dish roast mutton appeared—kebch mechoui—which was eaten with the fingers. At the end of the dinner-Arab etiquette requires that guests shall drink but once at the end of the dinnerwater and sour milk were passed round in wooden and earthen bowls, and then a water-vessel and black soap were presented for all to wash their hands.
The rules of dinner etiquette of the Arabs may now be set forth. To the person who has finished drinking we must say, “Sahha' (Health); or • Rouak Allah' (Allah has quenched thy thirst); and the drinker should reply, Nedjak Allah' (Allah preserve thee). • Allah irrham waldik' (May God remember the authors of thy days). The grace said before meals is of this form : 'In the name of God! O my God, bless what thou givest us to eat; and when it has been consumed, restore it again.'
Take care always in eating and drinking to use the right hand; in salutations also be careful to do the same thing; the left is used for impure purposes, and only demons eat and drink with the left hand. Eat in a cleanly manner. For this purpose keep your upper moustache cut rigorously to the level of the upper lip, so that it may not slobber like that of the Tartar chief with his koumyss. Don't blow upon your food; and when you leave the table say, 'I am satisfied; glory be to Allah' (Bani chebaane, el hhamedou lellah).
The Arab who entertains a guest of far superior rank ought not to seat himself at the cloth with him. He will remain standing, and see that his guest wants nothing.
For behaviour when seated at table the Arabs have abundant rules of etiquette, consecrated by the practice of thousands of years ; and since good breeding is good breeding all the world over, it is not surprising that such rules are for the most part in strict accordance with our own, modified and added to, of course, by the different conditions of Arab life ; one of the first of such modifications being that the guest must not look towards the apartment of the woman.
In taking place on the dining-carpet, wait till the chiefs and old men are seated. Find fault with nothing ; eat of all which is placed on the carpet.
Are you sad at heart ? are you perplexed in mind ? Conceal it. On both guest and host the duty is incumbent of allowing nothing to interfere with the geniality of the feast. If an Arab has lost his only child on the morning of the day on which he has invited a guest, he will make no alterations in his preparations, but perform the duties of host with undiminished scrupulous exactness, and make no mention of his loss to his guests, who may, if ignorant of his bereavement, retire without a suspicion of his misfortune. Of such an example General Daumas was himself a witness, when invited to the tent of the Kalifaa benn Hhamed. On this occasion, however, a chance arrival made known to the calif's guests the fact that their host had lost a beautiful daughter in the morning. To all exclamations and condolences the calif replied, “The affair of God must be accepted with closed eyes; with an affair of men one may endeavour to contend' (Hhadjet Rabbi, bessif nechobelon- ha ; Ou hhadjet el aabd imkenn nedfaaou-ha).
Give no orders to the servants, inquire not after any domestic details, don't give any orders about your horses or your followersthat is the affair of the master of the house. You should not even make any remarks about the furniture of your host, or about anything he possesses, nor suggest any alteration in the menu of the dinner. Never put any sweetmeats into your pockets; nor bring children with you who may ask for them. If your host is an aged man and tells you of his infirmities, listen gravely, and take care not to reply, 'As for me, every year gives me strength, and day by day I grow more active and strong.'
He who receives hospitality ought only to ask for the keblai.e. the point to which he should turn to say his prayers, the direction of Mecca; for he should fail in none of the duties of a true Mussulman, in pursuance of which he must also wash his hands both before and after the repast, and rinse his mouth with care.
The Arabs have invented names for all the transgressors of the rules of dinner etiquette, a fact which proves both the universality and the antiquity of these rules.
The metcharef is the gluttonous fellow, the insatiable, who turns his head round to see if more, and what, dishes are coming.
The addad is the individual who counts the dishes with his fingers and points at them.
The rechaf is the man who eats with such a noise as to be heard by his neighbours.
The kessam is the horrible fellow who bites a piece of meat and puts it back again.
The behhate is the greedy man who seizes on the piece another is about to take.
The aaouam scoops sauce out of the dish with his hand.
The sebbaye turns the bits of meat he takes round and round in the sauce.
The bekkar blows on his food.
The djennab is the man who eats with his elbows out and disturbs his neighbours.
The satrandji is the undecided fellow, who touches one bit after another before he can make up his mind.
The mehindess is the guest who orders the servants where to place the dishes.
The dinner is eaten in strict silence; it is the performance of a religious duty; the meats (which have been prepared of animals killed in religious fashion), the dining-carpet--all are held sacred. After dinner, when the hands are washed and the mouth cleansed, conversation begins. Who are you? Of what country are you? Of what tribe ? Where are you going ? If you like, you may reply ; if not, you change the conversation ; which must be carried on in such strict decency that innocence would not blush at a word. You must not, moreover, speak of absent friends ; this rule is invariable. Indeed, how can you know what grievances, what causes of vengeance, may not have sprung up between the absent and those present? The women, too, are there listening; silence is best.
An enemy, while under your tent, must be treated like a friend ; as soon as he has left it, however, you may lie in wait for him and kill him ; but this is said to be of rare occurrence.
The host, moreover, must not observe his guests closely. Take that hair out of the morsel thou art eating,' said an Arab to his guest. 'Since thou watchest me so narrowly,' replied the other, by the head of the Prophet, I will never eat with thee again.'
Nevertheless, a smart reply after dinner seems to be permitted, if we may believe the following story :
An Arab was entertained by a dervish. The dervish put two cakes of bread before his guest, and then went to his kitchen to fetch a dish of lentils. When he came back, the bread had disappeared. He placed the lentils, and went for more bread. When he returned, the lentils were gone.
More lentils, my good dervish.' The dervish brought more lentils, when the bread had again disappeared. “I have not got any bread, my good dervish.' It is well; I will fetch more.' The dervish thus made ten journeys to his kitchen, but he was never able to be quick enough to put bread and lentils together. When his guest had finished, conversation began. • Where art thou going on leaving here ?' « To Irdan.' • What for ? “There is a very great doctor in that town, and I am going to consult him. I am ill, and my appetite is bad.' Well, if it be so, and if he cures thee, by the head of the Prophet, I implore thee do not come back this way!'
When the guest wishes to leave, he announces his intention. His beasts of burden are prepared, his horse is brought to the door, and he is accompanied by his host to a certain distance.
When host and guest take leave of each other, the guest says, May God increase thy substance' (Allah iketer kherek), or, 'God will restore it' (i.e. what you have expended for me) (Rabbi ikhelif aalik). The reply is, 'Rohheu be selama' (Go with a blessing). " Tlob saadek' (Demand thy happiness). Telka el kher' (May good befall thee).
'Demand thy happiness'—that is to say, 'Look now to yourself. While you were my guest, your happiness was my affair ; now it is your own.'
If an Arab receives a Christian, he will observe the same rules with him as with an Arab. If he is a fanatic, or if he is malicious, however, he has a hundred ways of playing tricks upon his guest