Slavery has been outlawed in most arab countries for years now but there are villages in jordan made up entirely of descendants of runaway Saudi slaves. Abdulrahman knows he might be free, but hes still an arab. No one ever wants to be the arab - its too old and too tragic, too mysterious and too exasperating, and too lonely for anyone but an actual arab to put up with for very long. Essentially, its an image problem. Ask anyone, Persian, Turks, even Lebanese and Egyptians - none of them want to be the arab. They say things like, well, really we're indo-russian-asian european- chaldeans, so in the end the only one who gets to be the arab is the same little old bedouin with his goats and his sheep and his poetry about his goats and his sheep, because he doesnt know that he's the arab, and what he doesnt know wont hurt him.
Marry, don't marry,' Auntie Aya says as we unfold layers of dough to make an apple strudel. Just don't have your babies unless it's .'How do I know if it's necessary?'She stops and stares ahead, her hands gloved in flour. 'Ask yourself, Do I want a baby or do I want to make a cake? The answer will come to you like bells ringing.' She flickers her fingers in the air by her ear. 'For me, almost always, the answer was .
Dad says that everyone invented baklava. It occurs to me now to wonder what that means. Aunt Aya rolls her eyes.Your father? He is the worst of the worst. He thinks he cooks and eats Arabic food but these walnuts were not grown from Jordanian earth and this butter was not made from Jordanian lambs. He is eating the shadow of a memory. He cooks to remember but the more he eats, the more he forgets.