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Re: Dr. Ighneiwa's Kitchen

I do not know what the artist of the above cartoon [al-Mishan - Letters, Nov. 17, 2002] had in mind, nor do I know what he meant by the way the kitchen is furnished, the way it's organized and the various tools and gadgets the chef uses. Very creative indeed and may even hint few messages, some are obvious and some are hidden. It sure pulled my interest and glued me to stare on the content of this diverse and unique Kitchen.

To see for myself and in hope to satisfy my curiosity and get some answers to questions you and I might have, I decided to give this kitchen a visit. It was surprisingly easy to obtain directions for my tour. All I did is I plugged the word "Libya" into an Internet search tool and this mighty kitchen popped out on top of the results and smacked me right in the forehead.

I know some of you wanted to know in words what the artist imagined or wanted to say of what he depicted in sketches for this kitchen. It's my pleasure to report to you my observations, findings and the conversation that took place with the chef. My apology goes to the artist if he/she finds it contrary to the cartoon's intent and my apology also goes to Dr. Ibrahim if this piece has no place on the menu.

Minutes of old-time greetings..........then I was lead to my seat within talking distance with the chef's .....the following is part of our conversation.

Me: I see you selected the paint green for the walls, what's up with that?
Chef: Customers my friend! I like to welcome my patrons and keep them all happy, some prefer color green, some make fuss about it and are quite good at it, and others, like you, don't care what decor I have on the wall.
Me: ya I care.....I just wish they could give good reason of why they like it...How about that nice poster on the wall, It looks like paradise made in heaven?
Chef: I don't know about paradise, but it's my choice of place to retire.
Me: And it's not that far, ha?
Chef: Oh, its few thousand miles away.
Me: No, no, I meant in years.
Chef: funny, you are not spring cub either.

Me: Kleenex; is that for tears or for customers who might have cold?
Chef: Neither; it's for giving back change. You see, I often get currencies with a very close value to that of Kleenex.
Me: hummmm, how about the toilet paper? ...O', I better not ask.
Chef: It's not only for what you might think, it too belongs to the cash register, it takes care of the small denomination.

Me: Fire extinguisher?
Chef: yes, things do flame-up some times.
Me: I keep forgetting it's a kitchen.... How about those cleavers? I see you have a new one and you even keep the broken with no handle for souvenir, what is up with that?
Chef: long story, but since you asked...That is all I have left from a box of a dozen... I had few butcher block as well but all were chipped into pieces... few of my regular customers are ninjas, you should see the show they put on in here sometime. Cleavers, knives, machetes, axes and all sort of sharp objects often are waved and, at times, are flown in here. Some of these customers come with daggers strapped to their bellies and waste no time using them.
Me: Really? That will scare the appetite out of me.
Chef: I know what you mean, a skill no one can deny us.... I told them to bring their own butcher blocks from now on.

Me: I see the loaded truck is going downhill.
Chef: And I doubt is going to make it back up.
Me: Why?
Chef: the engine is needs rebuilt and no mechanics in sight.
Me: It is not that difficult, is it?
Chef: True, but there are no takers to do the job.
Me: I bet there are plenty of them to grab those cleavers.

Me: I see this season was good for watermelon.
Chef: Somebody dropped it off, ate what he could, stock the knife into it and yelled: "this is a reminder of our strong ties to mother Africa"....I haven't clue what he meant.
Me: did he bring along the chicken gizzards?
Chef: What do you mean?
Me: O' never mind...

Me: I smell Luzan tea, It is my favorite!
Chef: I got fresh and full pot of it.
Me: You read my mind, thanks!
Chef: Why do you like it so much?
Me: it's all-natural! No additives, no preservatives and you can smell it from afar. It's a tea you can relate to and almost relive its life. It describes the prairie it grows on with such accuracy and details. It tells the elements it witnessed and the methods in which it was harvested. it even suggests what must be done to further enhance the flavor. A tea that undusts things I took for granted. It tickles my questioning gland to venture in my surroundings. It hints to me to use tangible tools for measuring these standstill surroundings, and I could go on and on...I just love that tea!

Chef: You feel ok?
Me: Are you kidding? Few cups of it and I will feel right at home.
Chef: I don't want to be in your way, Knock yourself out, there is plenty of it.
Me: I will... thanks!...hey, there is a fishbone on the floor?
Chef: he did it again...somebody from Tajoora knows how to eat fish, not like you, desert dweller. He sucked the meat and that is all what's left.
Me: Oh, ya? Get him back and serve us Qas'at bazeen flavored with terr-fas and be the judge.

Me: Do you know the eggs are starting to hatch?
Chef: I have customers who will consume everything and anything you push their way and they get quite upset if I get rid of it.
Me: Let me's the watermelon guy, right?

Me: Flies and Spiders are flag to lose your license my friend!
Chef: unlikely, their owners are eating at that corner table they should go with them when they leave.
Me: what about the vacuum cleaner:
Chef: It's the only competition for the Al-tajoori.

He hands me the menu

Chef: What can I get you today?
Me: You have been serving the same menu for years, old friend, why don't you come up with something new and different?
Chef: I did, now you mentioned it, I am looking for somebody to try it and give it an honest opinion...You are the right candidate.
Me: What is it?
Chef: I have not given it a name yet,

He goes to the back room. Suddenly, I hear a commotion of slamming pats and pans against each other, a smoke start to swirl by the ceiling and, rather strange but good, smell started to find its way toward me...

Me: Is everything ok down there, I yelled?

Chef: Fine, thanks...I am almost done.

Few seconds later he emerges with a covered plate and pushes it in front of me.

Chef: here, try it...

As he goes to wait on another customer...few seconds later he comes back.

Chef: How is it?
Me: Different, but I accept it.
Chef: oooh, good. There is another part to it...I get it to you as soon as you finish with this.
Me: What is in it?
Chef: Good stuff, all healthy ingredients.

No sooner I take the last bite and he runs again to the back room and after some noise and commotion he comes back with a different plate.

Chef: This is it. This is the rest of my new let me know what you think.
Me: Forks spoons, chopsticks, hands or what? What should I use?
Chef: What ever you like, we have them all.
Me: This is excellent! I like it.
Chef: oh good, my goal is to have it as the most ordered dish in this kitchen. Me: I share your goal...It's certainly a good dish!
Chef: It's different and you accepted it and is my goal and you share it...hummm, that is respect my friend, and that should be the name!


Dear Reem Al-badiya,

Soliciting comments on that piece and without letting him know who wrote it, I asked a Libyan friend what he thought of it and whether the love-denying practice in our culture is healthy or not. "The writer should get a life" was his only comment. I could have likely ruined his day, had I asked him to compare...I agree with you, if we let love take its natural course and not hinder it, maybe, just maybe, we would have strong commitment and with measurable results to the home we love, Libya! Thank you very much for your soothing words!

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