What started as a quest for 70% fruit jam ended with me hopelessly lost and asking a gas station attendant for directions to the Nile.
When I first came to Egypt, I had a peasant’s understanding of the world and was content eating jam that was merely tasty and cheap. To me, jam was just a colder and more gelatinous form of candy that happened to contain the occasional hunk of fruit. However, here in Cairo I encountered people who subscribed to a different jam-philosophy. Oddly, they believed that jam should taste like fruit, not sugar. I heard the term “fruit percentage” for the first time as they sneered at jams that consisted mostly of artificial coloring and sugar.
Because of them, I was forced to try a jam that contained 60% fruit. It was a strange experience. My taste buds, accustomed to being blasted and then numbed by the sweetness, instead found themselves underwhelmed.
I enjoyed it on an intellectual level, but my ignorance had not yet been beaten out of me and I wanted my sugar jelly back. However, something strange had happened to me. I had been afflicted with the sugar-guilt. Now when I went to the supermarket, I secretly craved the cheap, facemeltingly sweet jams, but the sugar guilt haunted me and I purchased the sixty percent instead. I thought maybe the reason I didn’t love it as much as my friends was that there wasn’t enough fruit. Perhaps if I tried a jam with more fruit, I would see the wisdom of jam snobbery.
I had heard rumors of Mom’s jam: a 70% wonder found only at a place called Dina Farms. Months ago I had seen this store, and after spending too much time inside one day I decided to go on a jam hunt, relying only on my memory and my innate directional instinct. I set out confidently and within ten minutes found myself completely lost on the edge of what seemed to be a forest in the middle of Cairo. “Where did this come from?” I wondered.
Then I thought to myself, “The Nile. I must make towards the Nile. I will use its mother banks to as a great trail of breadcrumbs.” I happened upon a gas station attendant and asked him where the Nile was. Confused at my apparent confusion, he asked me where I was trying to go and I said resolutely: “I want to go towards the Nile” He pointed me in the right direction and soon I saw the glimmering waters in front of me. I was happy to be on my way home, albeit jamless.
Later on, I considered how ridiculous it was that I had just used a 4130 mile long river as a landmark to find my 2 person apartment. I imagined my reaction if a bedraggled tourist in downtown Oklahoma City asked me where the Rocky Mountains are and decided sometime’s it’s better just to leave such matters be.
P.S. Vote for Belle at Educlaytion’s March Movie Madness. She’s up against Atticus Finch, and let’s be honest here…she deserves to beat that sucker.