Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Pakistani Holidays

Every marriage is interesting when you try to mix traditions, but when you try to mix staunchly American and Pakistani traditions, when mixed with Christian and Muslim traditions, it is more than interesting, maybe better described as mind boggling.

I really thought that after all my husband and I had been through together we knew each other well, but it occurs to me, that you cannot know anyone completely, EVER.

One of my best friends is married to a German man, they are both fairly agnostic and knew each other for about eight years before deciding to get married. We had a conversation recently about how many things she has now discovered, five years into the marriage, after having two children, that she would have never expected.

I feel the same way she does. M and I have been married for almost five years now. We have baby S. We've celebrated Eids together and Christmases together. We've put up a Christmas tree, after a HUGE disagreement, I've bought Eid gifts and helped him pick out new clothes for the baby--part of the tradition. I've learned about the Eidee tradition (and taken full advantage of it!) and I've tried my best to be respectful and helpful. This year, my husband volunteered "his wife" to make food for the entire mosque for the breaking of the fast during Ramadan one night. Since they wanted fried chicken, he figured it should be right up my alley.

Forget the fact that they also wanted vegetable pullao, which until that day I had never made, and that we were to feed at least 100 people. One-hundred people! Thank God for my mother, we pulled off the chicken and I extorted a rice maker from my husband for the pullao!

This brings me to Christmas, largely ignored by my husband. This, normally, wouldn't be a problem but this year my parents had to celebrate with us on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas day and this confused my husband. This year is particularly important to my parents because baby S is finally old enough to open their presents and ooh and ahh over them. But my husband, suddenly felt that tradition was being broken by not celebrating on Christmas starting a conversation about whether or not he supports my traditions in the same way that I celebrate his. Cue his *remembering* Iftari dinner and my mother's contributions and how it came to be that I received $200 in twenty dollar bills as my Christmas present. . . .

I think there might still be a culture gap.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Chopping Tomatoes

When I first met my husband I had never chopped a tomato. I was that girl in college who ordered fried chicken wings when everyone else ordered normal Chinese from the takeout menu. In fact, this was what a good friend of mine from college pointed out to me the first time she learned that I was cooking Pakistani food. It was my first tastes of chicken curry that convinced me I had to learn to cook Pakistani food, not to mention that I thought it might be a little unfair for me to expect my husband to convert to American cuisine only.

The first dish I tried to make was chicken curry, but if I had only worked on that dish until I perfected it, we both would have starved. I kept getting chicken curry wrong! I would cook it in Canada and everything would seem fine and then, back home, I'd invite my best friend over to try it and cook it all wrong. Eventually, my husband and I all but gave up on it and I learned to cook byriani by watching Z's wife cook it once. It was really great! Even though she does not speak much English, she talked as much as she could and was very tolerant of my note-taking. That dish was so easy that I've done it just right since that day and it really built up my confidence. Since then, I've gotten really good at Kadhi Pakora, all types of byriani, beef and chicken, bindhi and daal curries.

Finally, in year number seven, I've made a chicken curry that I consistently adore. It took me seven years of and youtube cooking gurus with trial and error to finally get proficient enough to even ask coherent questions of others who are better cooks! Gori Wife, you've no idea how much I envy you!