Last month I went to North Africa. We spent nine days setting up an art gallery, meeting new friends, talking with gallery visitors, eating at new restaurants, and praying for the city we were in.
The country we were visiting is 99% Muslim. The city we were in had a handful of indigenous believers. We were told that it was a great risk for the locals to choose Christianity, because they would likely be rejected by many of their friends and family. Many people we met through our art gallery had never had a prolonged conversation with a Christian before.
Our pop-up gallery gave us a unique venue to get to know people and to explore the ideas presented in the art: Who should we care for? Who can we relate to? How can compassion transcend cultural, geographic, and linguistic barriers? What does it mean to welcome “them”, whoever “those people” might be? What kinds of people should we assign value to? Artists from across America sent us pieces centered around those ideas for the three day show we hosted.
Food is an interesting insight into culture wherever you travel. I don’t have a lot to say on the food in North Africa, except that I loved eating it, I tried a few new things, and this blog post is more fun than informative. Enjoy.
Paella with giant, kind of intimidating prawns
Cute cookies that we served at our pop-up gallery receptions. Almost all of them contained coconut.
Beautiful grilled sardines
Pastilla- A pastry filled with seafood and rice noodles
Olives. Every meal started with olives.
A tomato based soup served with dates. While it is eaten all year round, it is a staple during Ramadan iftar meals.
Pasta with lentils and two whole chickens. We ate off the same platter, in traditional style.
A Korean feast cooked for us by some of our friends.
Something like a donut.
A dish with pasta, powdered sugar, cinnamon, and almonds. An entire roasted chicken is hidden underneath. Again, we all shared the same plate.
Tajeen. Chicken and vegetables cooked in a clay dish.