Yesterday was our first Omani cultural lesson. It was very interesting and informative. We learned about traditional Omani قهوة (coffee). For this lesson the leaders separated the men and women. Women were taught downstairs while the men were taught upstairs. We were told to sit around a mat as a professors demonstrated.
There are many sections during a traditional Omani coffee:
- The Greeting
When entering someone’s home the proper greeting is a kiss on the cheek. Then the hostess asks how everyone in your family is doing. EVERYONE in your family. She asks about your daughter to your grandmother. The only response to these questions is الحمل سة بخير (al- hum lilla) which means thank God.
Next they will offer you coffee. Coffee, here in Oman, is much different than the US. It has many more spices which gives black coffee much more flavor. The hostess only fills your coffee up half way. If your cup has been filled all the way it is an insult. Once you finish drinking you shake your cup as you pass it back to the hostess. If you don’t she will assume you would like more and give you a refill.
After your coffee you will be offered dates. Dates, the fruit, not the activity. Oman is actually know for sweets dates. The proper way to eat a date is by squeezing the date with your right hand (remember the left hand is off limits) until the seed pops out. You always eat the dates in odd numbers such 1,3,5, and 7. But if you have more than three it’s seen as greedy. So I suggest you don’t.
Your hostess will always prepare the food in front of you. She cut all the many delicious fruits in front of you. I enjoyed a very scrumptious apple. And as you talk eat, eat, and eat. You will continue to be fed unless you have food in your hand.
- The Exit
Once your visit has ended you will incensed under your clothes. It is a wonderful smell and you’ll be smelling that great smell for days.
A few things to note. Keep talking. No matter what continue to talk. Ask questions, give answers don’t stop talking. Remember if you ask for something the host must provide it if they can. So keep that in mind. If at any point you don’t have food in your hand it will be offered to you. You must take it otherwise it’s rude. The only exception would be for allergies of course. Not liking something or being full is not an excuse. Just like your grandma Omani’s want you to eat up!
I hope you were able to get a better understanding of Omani coffee. Hopefully one day you will be able to experience this yourself. If you have any questions feel free to comment here. You should also follow my Instagram for more pictures and more direct updates.