No, I am not a serial killer. I am just someone who got to go back to her childhood in a few to-die-for bites of Arabi Madam.
Let me take you back to 1997 in Mesai’eed, Qatar. It was tomato season and our garden was crowded with way too many. My mom made puree, tomato cubes, soup mixes, juice concentrate, everything she possibly could. And then we decided to give them away to all our neighbours, including my Arabic tutor from kindergarten, who I called Arabi Madam. I loved her. She was so pretty, and she was the only one who pronounced my name of Egyptian origin, right. To show her appreciation for ripe home grown tomatoes, she sent us a chocolate biscuit dish that was insanely good. I think my brother hit me with a spoon to get the last crumb. So we begged mom to go get the recipe. And she did. Only she forgot to ask it’s name, and she marked it as Arabi Madam to help her remember later.
And that stuck on. For decades. We never thought it was a weird name for a dessert until others pointed it out.
‘You are eating what?’ many asked. One friend made it her own, and called it Arabic Miss.
And then last week, my brother went to Portugal for his honeymoon. And there he found it, sitting smug and pretty in a little café. He pinged me right away, ‘Google Salame de Chocolate’. Little did I know it would take me back to the good life. Of sitting in her class repeating Vaahid, Ithnein, Thalaatha… waiting to get my Quality Street Mackintosh chocolate for finishing my assignment first. Of coming home and rushing to the fridge to see my slice of Arabi Madam untouched by my brother. (Of course, I did tell him I spat on it.) Of the familiar smell of mom’s kitchen that never disappointed. Sigh!
I waited no further. Called my mom, sent her the recipe. And we made it the first chance we got. The three hours I had to wait for it to set was torture. I was pacing, trying to distract myself with other snacks. Nothing worked. And then 5 minutes before time, I just ripped through the paper and cut myself a slice and…
… happy tears. Time travel was indeed possible.