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Preparing for Mediterranean guests in the US

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Oh Joy:
I'm a lifelong US Midwesterner, married to a man who moved here a handful of years ago.  His mother and brother are coming to meet me and our little ones.

I'm starting to prepare our home to be both comfortable and welcoming, especially for MIL (who is neither young nor spry, doesn't speak English and has never been to North America, while BIL is fluent in English and has visited here). 

I'm comfortable with all of the generic preparation...linens, space heater & fan in guest room, a NativeTongue/English dictionary, etc.  But can anyone think of anything specific to the Mediterranean/Middle Eastern region that I might not think to ask DH or he may have never noticed is expected of hosts?  For example, we're installing a bidet attachment to one of the toilets because we know she was uncomfortable at the idea of not having one.

Thanks so much to anyone with any insight!

Weather - will they have clothing for the time of year they will be visiting? 

How is your home heated/cooled how is that different that where they live?

My relatives from PEI found ac blowing down on them to be very uncomfortable.

Sometimes people are particular about foods - especially breakfast.  Morning coffee is a big deal for many people, too.

Your DH probably knows what their food and meal preferences are, or could find out.

I have family from the Middle East, and I'll try to mention a few things that might be culture shock.

-Some folks take their shoes off at the front door instead of wearing them in the house. Just know that they might feel comfortable doing that.

-With meals, they might not feel comfortable helping themselves even if you tell them to. You might want to leave out some snack items, chips, dips, vegetables, things that might not spoil if they're not refrigerated for a while, just for munching if they're hungry.

-They might not be comfortable with pets, especially large ones, like hyper dogs jumping on their laps, on the furniture, etc. Don't take it personally if they're totally freaked out by your pet gerbil, or they want your dog to stay in another room at all times.

-They're probably used to less processed foods, more fruits and veggies not cupcakes and stuff with a ton of preservatives.

food in general is a biggie.

food tends to be spicier than in the US (or a different kind of spicy), with a lot of fresh herbs (like corainder, parsley, oregnao), garlic, peppers, and dried herbs (cumin, coriander, ginger, pepper, hot paprika, tumeric etc). depending on where they're from, they might find the sweeter cuisine in the states too sweet.

I agree with leaving out food, but you also may have to push it on them a bit. it can appear to be rude to *ask* for food, but *you* will be rude in their eyes if you don't offer (and then serve even if they say no ;D ). especially for things like coffee/tea, cold drinks, fruit.

coffee - again, depends where they're from - is usually coarsely ground and prepared strong and sweet, usually without milk. Tea is often served with fresh mint leaves. coffee and tea are usually served as a separate snack with cookies and/or fruit, not as part of a meal, though might be offered at the end of a meal. some people in the region are quite obsessive picky about drinking in clear or decorated glass glasses and not ceramic/mugs.

depending also on whether your MIL is a traditional woman or more modern - if she is traditional, then her whole "being" is tied up with her family, and she shows her love through cooking and cleaning. You  might want to let her cook a few of the meals.


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