Our First Family Restaurant Experience

Hookah bar

Hookah bar

While traveling a nearby city, we found a good restaurant to try.

The kids had walked a good bit and so we opted to try a well-received local restaurant.

Instead of an alcohol bar, the restaurant had a hookah bar.

Above entryway mirror

Above entryway mirror

Peek-a-boo!

Sitting at the table

Sitting at the table

They had benches for us to sit around a low table

which of course the kids thought meant it was their inside playground….

Joyfull loving the food!

Joyfull loving the food!

We had a great time with our friends and enjoyed several appetizer dishes together.

As you can see from Joyfull’s hands and plate, it was good!!!

Everyday Oddities Unusual for Foreigners

Beauty in the junk truck

Beauty in the junk truck

Here you will find things that just make you want to giggle.

And can also be thought-provoking too.

Like the above, why not paint designs on haul-away junk trucks?

Dazzling displays

Dazzling displays

Over the top displays in higher-end stores seem to be commonplace.

Nightly sky

Nightly sky

The vivid evening skies are awe-inspiring! I am not use to such magnificence!

Sidewalk Parking

Sidewalk Parking

Why do you pave sidewalks?

I guess so you can park on them.

So normal.

Never ticketed.

Hang on veggies!

Hang on veggies!

The produce/farmer trucks here don’t seem to care much for tarps or netting.

Empty Lots

Empty Lots

This is a beautiful, nearly untouched or about to be built on, lot.

Most lots here are littered and have everything from garbage bags of trash to

empty plastic bags to

bones to rocks to

wild cats to laundry lines…

Garbage bag kite

Garbage bag kite

This is our city. And there was a little boy attached to the end of the homemade kite string.

Ruins and modern city, all squeezed in together!

Obscure entryway

Obscure entryway

Sometimes the best restaurants are advertised and you have to go through 4 unmarked doorways to get to the hostess.

Some other nuances include:

1. Shakira music blasting in grocery stores while I shop next to fully-covered Muslim women

2. Produce stands that pop up on the roadside one day and don’t have a schedule for return days.

3. All police vehicles drive with their emergency lights flashing.

I have no idea how I’ll ever know if they are pulling me over.

4. Ambulances makes a sort of bubbly alarm noise when they need you to move out of their way.

5. McDonalds has valet parking. And also have a McDelivery Service here.

Are you ready to come visit???

The Food Scene

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So I am going to break this post down into snacks we eat on a regular basis

and “cultural” food that we’ve found to work for our family.

For after school snacks, it’s easy and cheap to make popcorn. And so we did.

And as you can see below, one of our favorites to add with it is smoothies.

I can’t vouch that the frozen fruit here is super clean and some may have issues with

making smoothies with “non-washed” fruit, but we just let it go.

We also like vegetable sticks and hummus.

We’ll also use hummus as a condiment on sandwiches when I think the kids need more nutrition.

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Good, plain, classic corn/wheat chips for dipping into salsa or hummus are hard to come by.

My friend mentioned that she makes her own and since then I’ve always got this paper thin bread in my freezer.

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I’ll whip it out and chop it into triangles.

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Toss it in olive oil and salt, and bake.

Walah! The kids love it!

Easy, no-preservative crunch!

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Enter Halloumi Cheese.

It’s relatively cheap, you can find it anywhere and it reminds me of queso fresco.

(The mexican cheese that doesn’t melt).

We like to eat vegetarian sometimes and this is an easy addition with our fajitas.

I chop it up and fry it for a few minutes, sometimes in spices and it gets a nice crisp and browned outside.

I always have a block of this cheese in my fridge. It’s an easy food for us.

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Vegetables.

There’s grocery stores, produce stands, little mini-marts, produce abounds.

But it’s less plentiful in variety.

I have found heaps of eggplants, peppers, zucchini and cucumbers.

Herbs like mint, parsley and cilantro are almost always available.

(Please note, we’ve only been here 2 months).

Our salads are now cleaned, fresh, sliced peppers, cucumbers, carrots & tomatoes.

If we are going all out, we’ve got olives we’ll set out as well and maybe even sprinkle olive oil and vinegar on top.

For fruit (and especially for the kids’ lunches), I feel a bit limited.

There’s imported apples, imported bananas (almost always bruised),

expensive strawberries, tons of lemons (not seeing any limes though).

Oranges are plentiful but seeded.

IMG_6768So bakeries…

They are tons of them and they aren’t created equal.

Non-crumbly sandwich bread is harder to find.

But specialty breads (especially the flatbread types)

are available for great prices.

Enter in pitas, whole grain, white, sesame seed, mediterranean loaves (loaves with olive oil & herbs on top),

you name it, there’s a lot of more Mediterranean-type breads here.

We will splurge and go to a bakery now and then and pick up flatbreads and bread sticks for a treat.

Inevitably my babies will be noticed and given extra treats which make their day.

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What’s caught me off guard at the grocery store:

I was surprised at the expense for coconut oil, but olive oil and ghee are reasonably priced.

If you go to a good fish market shop, fish is reasonably priced.

Lamb is more expensive than chicken and nearly as expensive as beef.

Cereals are costly and peanut butter doesn’t taste like American pb and it costs a good bit.

Beans and grains (Middle-eastern ones like Israeli couscous, etc)

 are an easy cheap staple for us. Brown rice is more expensive.

There are huge tons of plain yogurt for very cheap.

You can find fresh mozzarella cheaper here than in the States.

There are a lot of “fake” cheeses here.

That’s the quick rundown.

Another time  i’ll likely post about breakfasts, lunches and dinners so you all have an idea what we’re consuming.