Friday, March 28, 2008

Pride Comes Before The Fall

Monday night we were scheduled to have Sam (remember soorj-mart
(coffee-man) and his family over for dinner. We met his family on our
first offical night in Yerevan at Judi's birthday party in Nork but I
was sick and jet-lagged and really wasn't positioned to talk with
Sam's wife, Angel, at all. Judi enjoyed playing with their two
daughters Serpoohi-6 1/2, and Susie, 4 1/2, and we loved seeing their
new Zweekner (twins) Allen and Ellen who were 3 months old at the
time. But that was more than a month ago and we really needed to have
them over...Kalem called Sam Monday at noon to confirm dinner and the
time...5pm was decided upon (note: I was so excited by the early time
since things usually don't start too early and it always means a long
night). I was in the kitchen working my magic, CornFlake Chicken (A
few notes on CornFlake Chicken(let me know if you want the
recipe : )...Greg Haroutunian introduced this delacy to me in the
early 90's for a church function...easy, fun and truly you cannot
screw this up. I had tried my CornFlake chicken with our family in
Nork and with our new beloved friend, Gohar (not MRS. SEROB : )) from
the Habitat office. Both groups had never had this crazy chicken
before but seemed to like it very well (even though I usually get
chided for not putting enough Salt...I need to devote an entire blog
to SALT in Armenia!!! But this time I would not be chided for not
enough salt, for this time I not only put salt but I also put a VERY
GENEROUS portion of CHAMAN (for those of you Hyes who know chaman it
is NOT the red, soft, granular paste that blankets basterma, but
actually the dry spice of chaman which is actually yellowish in hue).
Sorry to be pedantic but the details are necessary)...SO CornFlake
Chicken , Gananch Loubi with Dzu (ginormous long, wide, green beans
with scrambled egg, Pilaf, Cabbage salad and the coup de
etat...chocolate chip cookies for dessert (really Nestle chips &
baking powder even though there is still no brown sugar...) PRIDE.
My meal was perfectly set to be hot and ready by 5:30pm (leaving the
customary...Hello! we're Armenian and we NEVER get ANYWHERE on TIME
cushion). The house was clean, Peter and Frank were taking a late
nap, Judi was pleasantly sitting at the computer, as the clock struck
5pm. Then we waited. 5:15, 5:30, 5:45...NOTHING. Now to my awesome
American friends who show up at 5pm when they are invited somewhere at
5pm or to Mark & Julie Fagundes who would probably show up at 4:45pm
and wait in their car in the drive-way!!! For you this is craziness,
but for (some) in Hayastan this is NORRMALL! At 5:50pm, I, Jonelle,
the loving, patient, demure, soft-spoken, and lest I forget,
SUBMISSIVE!!!!!! wife demanded that Kalem call Sam and see if they
were dead, super late or just not coming. Of course, the conversation
went like so, "Sam-jan gallees es?" "Ha, Kalem-jan gallees em!".
Translation, "Sam are you coming. Yeah Kalem I'm coming!" Now I know
I just might have been a little cranky but the operative question for
me would have been WHEN? When are you coming?...women, we are so
punctilious! 6, 6:15, 6:30pm..."KALEM, PLEASE call Sam and find out
WHEN they are coming PLLEEESSE!!!!!" Phone call #2, "Sam-jan gallees
es?" "Ha, Kalem-jan gallees em!". If I hadn't cut all my hair off
(yet another blog) I would have PULLED it all out after that! So our
peaceful and prepared meal of perfection had slowly become a cold
gelatinous and over-cooked mess. Our peace was replaced with chaos as
Frank and Peter were roused from, what had turned into, deep REM
sleep, whines, whimpers, and cries for Daddy to hold them and all
manner of craziness in volumes which only we can produce in the echo-
chamber in which we dwell. Next, Kalem's phone rings and it is Sam
and his family...they are ACTUALLY at our house and only 2 HOURS after
they said they would be there, oh and one more side note, Sam brought
his Dad and Mom too!! Pleased be advised that I am TRULY an advocate
of THE MORE THE MERRIER philosophy and USUALLY I prepare more food
than anyone can ever eat (baring Peter's baptism lunch and Frank's 1st
birthday...may we never speak of these again....) But you have to
understand in ARMENIA the Chicken are actually naturally fed and they
don't have hormones so they are 1/3 of the size of our botoxed birds.
The chicken would feed us nicely but two more adults and again I was
hanging on the precipice of being inhospitable this time by LACK OF
FOOD!!! As the group made their way up I sprang to the kitchen to
whip up some pasta for the kids. I was working the boiling water and
Peter crying, Kalem had Frank-O and was welcoming the guests and
getting them settled. From there we made a steady descent into the
worst night of entertaining I have every produced in TWO COUNTRIES!!!
We were trying to eat, I was up and down with the food, the crying
boys, and the extra plates. Judi bonded again instantaneously with
the girls and the mayhem continued up and down the stairs, yelling,
running, slamming doors, INSANITY, and then Peter and Frank joined
into the mix. At one point the kids were in the breezeway between the
apartments jumping down from ledge making thunderous sounds. Yep,
Mrs. Serob came out to investiage and chide. I just wanted to crawl
upstairs and hide. There were few moments of good conversation and
peace and then the chocolate chip cookies...flat and anham (tasteless)
except when you got to the chocolate. The evening only lasted 2 hours
but it seemed like an eternity. Our guests departed vowing to have us
to their home for kufta...we closed the door. We got the kids to bed
after they were instructed, lectured, chided, punished, prayed for and
loved good-night. I came down to the table. I slumped into my chair,
disheveled, distraught, and throughly disappointed. I had barely
eaten in the confusion and much to my shock there was actually food
left over. I took a piece of cold lifeless CornFlake Chicken in my
hands hoping to find a morsel of comfort. Once I swallowed I looked
at Kalem in utter disbelief, "This tastes HORRIBLE!" His response, "I
KNOW!!" God is so precious how He puts us in our place, how He shows
us that we are not "ALL-THAT" and how in our defeat He shows us His
love and HIS HUMOR!! Mental note: DON'T EVER PUT CHAMAN ON YOUR
CORNFLAKE CHICKEN!!!
Jonelle (aka Mariam Stewartyan)

1 comment:

Kenj said...

Oh, friend! I am SO sorry. You are a fantastic cook and I am commenting to let everyone who doesn't know, know: Jonelle is a FANTASTIC cook! I have been dreaming in lulu burgers lately, remembering our last BBQ at your house, but then again I am 8 months pregnant and all I think about is food.

But I digress.

Once when we were newly married and living in San Fransisco, we had a co-worker of mine and her husband over for dinner. I pre-made the garlic bread and then wrapped it in Saran to be cooked later. I cooked it, all right. With the plastic STILL ON.

So here we are biting into our bread and wondering what the crunchy stuff is...

Feel better now?