Wednesday, August 10, 2011
The Rogue Speaks
Lunchtime has finally arrived after a long hard morning at work. You and your friends gather to enjoy a delicious noon-day repast. Your meal may begin with a relish made with chilies, pepper, cardamom, caraway, fresh coriander and garlic, along with some lahuh to dip and scoop up the relish.
Your main dish may be salta, a thick and spicy meat stew made with lamb or chicken with lentils, beans, chickpeas, coriander, fengreek and a few fiery spices. Ahhh! Wasn't that delicious??
Now for your beverage. How about a nice cup of qishr, made of coffee husks and ground ginger! Yum!!
Lunch is over and now it is time to go back to work. But wait! Look over there! Isn't that fellow selling qat?? Why, yes, I believe he is! We still have a few more minutes to spare, so let's go buy a few leaves!!!
Do you know where you are? You are in Yemen! And qat, a leafy narcotic, is the main agricultural crop!! Qat, when chewed, produces feelings of euphoria and stimulation. It has become a major cultural phenomenon and has created conflict over its production in Yemen and Somalia. Yemen is an extremely arid region, and water is a very scarce commodity. The Yemenis, however, prefer to use what little water they have to grow qat over food crops!!
Qat used to be a weekend recreational drug of choice, but has now become almost a daily ritual of social importance. Since the average family in Yemen makes around $700 a year, and qat chewing can cost as much as $20 a day, qat can really put a strain on the family budget.
Coffee used to be the largest crop in Yemen, but qat has replaced the coffee crops. This has been detrimental to Yemen's economy because it drains foreign investors.
It has been said that qat production has encouraged laziness and absenteeism on the job because workers go to lunch, chew some fresh-picked qat, and then take the rest of the day off. So maybe we should just skip the qat, and go back to work. No? Don't say I didn't warn you!!
When I am in my car, my radio is only tuned to one station--NPR. I get a lot of ideas from stories I hear on public radio, and even keep a little notebook handy to make a note of interesting news items. I heard the story of qat several months ago and knew I had to use it for Alphabe-Thursday. There are a lot of other interesting "Q" posts to be found at Jenny's blog, so hop on over!!!
p.s. I discovered a very interesting and artsy blog today, so if you have time, please scroll down to my Whimsical Wednesday post, and click on the link!