National Geographic : 1956 Jul
But this is a simple ceremony compared with the banquets offered by rulers of the sheikdoms. When the meal is ready, a slave spreads a white cloth over the Oriental car pets. A procession of men follows, each carrying a dish, which the ruler directs into position. Most impressive are the five-foot trays piled with rice, on top of which are goats or sheep. Young camels are sometimes served. There may be as many as a hun dred side dishes: stewed meat in gravy, whole chickens, sweetmeats, and the inevitable dates. Sometimes custom directs that the principal guest become the host, and he must invite the real host to eat with him! Picking up food with his right hand only, the guest has his fill, and he and the host amicably pass tidbits to each other. 70 "Praise be to God!" exclaims the guest, for, apart from an appreciative belch, it is not cus tomary to thank the host personally. Many Arabs smoke locally grown tobacco in very small pipes that allow only a couple of long puffs. Sometimes after a meal the whole of the assembled company will smoke from one pipe. On one occasion I was caught unawares, and my brier was taken from me and passed around for everyone's enjoyment. When the guest shows signs of leaving or when the host wishes to hint that it is time for him to be on his way, rose water is called for, together with a small container in which a piece of frankincense burns on charcoal. The Arabs fan the fragrant smoke under their beards and headcloths and hold the container under their cloaks.