Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Eva Bella's Etiquette for Eating Middle Eastern Fatayer

Meet Eva Bella...  

Eva with me in 2011
Eva hails from Syria and has lived in Southern California for 16 years nowI met and trained Eva as an etiquette instructor back in the fall of 2010.  Always gracious, Eva first brought me the middle eastern pastry, cheese fatayer, a few weeks after she started her training. It was delicious!  I knew her students would enjoy eating it too, so I suggested she create a lesson plan for her students on how to eat fatayer properly, and on middle eastern dining manners in general.  Below are the instructions for her youth etiquette classes on the days she serves fatayer.

Eva Bella's Etiquette for Eating Middle Eastern Fatayer 

It is always a treat when Eva brings cheese fatayer to my home...  Yum!
Fatayer can be a pie, or pastry.  It may be stuffed with spinach or cheese and
even meat. It is a “finger food”.  It is part of Middle Eastern cuisine and is eaten in
Syria, and other countries of the region like Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan  & Iraq.  It is usually eaten at breakfast time, but is delicious enough to eat as a snack anytime!
 
Dining etiquette in the Middle East, is as important as American dining manners.  You do not want to insult your host, hostess or others you are dining with.  Here are the rules for eating fatayer and making a good impression when eating Middle Eastern foods:

1. Make sure your hands are clean before eating finger foods. Always place a napkin in your lap, especially when eating finger foods.
 
2. Watch your host and hostess for “cues” and “clues” of how you should act at the table.  Make sure your elbows are off of the table. In the Middle East, it is rude to have your left hand on the table.  Eat with your right hand, and keep your left hand in your lap.  You can use it to hold your napkin when eating finger foods.  That way it will not wind up on the table by mistake.
 
3. If the fatayer is served with paper napkins, use a napkin to pick up a piece. Have a small bite (corner bite) not a smiley big bite, set it down on the plate.  Chew with your mouth closed and try to avoid talking with others, you don't want people to see what you are chewing inside your mouth, and lose their appetites. Remember... Wipe your mouth if you need to between bites.
 
4. Normally fatayer is served with tomato, cucumber and olives, so you can have a bite of fatayer and a piece of vegetables or olives too.
 
5. Never make bad comments at the table, or in a restaurant, if you did not like something served to you for the first time.  It is very poor manners.

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