It really is a wonderful world.
I’m sharing this today as a reminder to me that no culture is made up of purely bad people. There are good people everywhere, you just have to look.
Years ago when the kids were very small I used to have foreign language students to stay while they were learning English. I thought it was a really good way to immerse the kids in other cultures and teach them that basically, we’re all the same where it matters.
We had young adults living with us for anything from two weeks up to three months. They were from non English speaking countries all over the world and it was like running a lovely but chaotic circus!
I have such lovely memories of all of them but this story is about one in particular. A young Saudi called Shadi.
Shadi lived with us for two months. He was very homesick and in real culture shock. This was an 18 yr old who’s world was reversed. I was a woman and I drove for instance.
He was very uncomfortable with me at first but we both persevered and became good friends. He taught me some Arabic, I explained slang to him – but no bad words!! I wasn’t brave enough for that!! We both agreed that for him, the worst words in the world were “Time to get up”!
He was a terrible straggler coming home because he was just so amazed by English life that he’d stop for ages to look at the strangest things! I used to corrupt Oasis “Don’t look back in Anger” lyrics and sing “and so Shadi comes late” bless him!
(I’d apologize to Oasis but frankly, they’re arseholes and don’t deserve it.)
Shadi missed his younger brothers and sisters and adored playing with my kids. He used to throw them up in the air so high in the garden I thought I’d be sick! They absolutely adored him. It was a wonderful time.
I wanted to make him feel more at home so I asked him if he had any favourite things I could cook. His mother gave me this recipe and he was overjoyed to have a taste of home. He loved Baklava too and used to say I made it better than his mum, I don’t think he could have given me a nicer compliment.
When it came time for him to leave I was pretty heartbroken. I knew I’d never see him again. He bought me the Spice girls “Wannabe” to remember him because of the line “friendship never ends”. I think of him every time I hear it.
He said that no matter what he read in the news papers he’d always know how real English people were. I will always miss him and hope he still remembers us with as much affection as we remember him.
PS: I put my own take on writing out this recipe. Attach no blame to Shadi’s mum! I worked very hard on this recipe LOL
Shadi’s Special Roast Chicken
1 whole chicken
1 lg onion chopped very finely
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp mixed herbs
Juice of 1 lemon or lime
2 1/2 cups natural plain yoghurt
2 cups cooked rice
1 cup peas
1 cup pine nuts
More peas and pine nuts MIGHT “accidentally” fall into the bowl. Shit happens.
Place the chicken in a non metallic dish. Combine the onion, herbs, seasoning,yoghurt and lemon juice and smother that baby like its Justin Bieber about to start singing and only you can stop him.
Marinate for several hours. I generally leave it about 6-8 hours.
Preheat oven to 350F/180C
Wipe excess marinade off chicken. You may sing “Because it’s all about the baste” while doing this. Let your freak flag FLY!!!
Combine rice, peas and pine nuts and season to taste then shove the whole lot right up the chickens hooha.
Truss a la 50 shades of grey and cook for about an hour and a half or until done. It depends on the weight of the chicken. I go by the age old 20 minutes per pound and 20 minutes over as a guideline.
Serves One 😊