Explorer Mikael Strandberg

Salta, the Yemeni Sunday roast

Hal andarah salta?” I asked the owner, Ahmed, and he nodded and said something like: “Mumtaz salta!”

I met these gentlemen on my way to the Matam....
I met these gentlemen on my way to the Matam….

So I just walked into a hole in a wall, sat down at the back of the room, next to a big poster of the president Ali Abdullah Saleh who was gazing kindly down at the hungry lot of Sunday eaters. The restaurant was kind of closing up, it was midday Friday and the big prayer day for all our globes Moslem’s. Traditionally dressed Yemenis hurried past the restaurant, bags of kat in their hands and the jambiyya polished and tucked down in the belt and the muezzins were already calling. A couple of beggars passed by, the owner gave one of them a cup of chai, (tea) a coupe of flat breads and sent him on his way. This particular beggar sleeps just outside the school and I give him an orange on and off and some change. It makes me feel good and he looks happier. For a moment. And that is enough for me. Because the fact is that people who have been hit by the shit of life, knows what a difference the merest of gifts can do for one´s happiness and attitude. Friday is of course the big giving-day for the Muslim world and that means that there are a lot of unfortunate people walking around the winding streets of Old Sanaa.

Salta - the national dish of Yemen
Salta – the national dish of Yemen

My salta was delivered steaming hot together with flat bread and some spices and it took me a good ten minutes before I could tuck into this great meal. The salta initially looked, for me, like a meal of left overs, but in reality, this national dish of Yemen, consist of meat broth, eggs, ground meat, onions, tomatoes and something called a hilba, which all of you know is a mixture of fenugreek and grated leeks. A very filling and tasty meal, eaten of course with the right hand.

Inside the restaurant looking out on the busy, narrow 26th of September
Inside the restaurant looking out on the busy, narrow 26th of September

This was the first time since I arrived to Yemen that I was out cruising Sanaa by myself and even though I really love the company of my good friends here, Lise, Pamela, Tobias and Bob, I have always pretty much been by myself during my twenty three years of exploration. And I love it! And it is dead easy in Yemen! The difference is that it gives you ample time to observe and understand things better. You see and notice all the details you otherwise always loose and it is, of course, much better of you want to practice the Arabic words hopefully picked up during the lessons. And for the first I really enjoyed the combination of the strong calls from the muezzins all around my neighbor at the Tahrir Square, the cramped restaurant, the gazing and smiles from all passer by´s, gee, there´s so many characters here and the feeling of satisfaction I have is enormous regarding me having such an opportunity to be able to experience Sanaa´s old City at this time of my life.

I feel very priviliged indeed!

Please visit my main blog to read about all the preparations for the biggest of Expeditions!

Matam owner and salta expert -Ahmed
Matam owner and salta expert -Ahmed