Say Cheese or Plain Cheesy? The Mother-in-law Manual

When we brought all ladies on the table, matters were extremely visual. I could smell Aunt Widad, grate Aunt Eman’s rough structure off, spread Aunt Zainab’s hilarious stories on all available toast, and taste Edith just for the experience. The cheese platter turned into a bunch of women staring at me!


Blue doesn’t go with all colors:

Aunt Widad is the most contradicting of all mother-in-laws. Like blue cheese, you can’t find anyone indifferent about her. You either die for or totally loathe her. She’s very blunt and open about herself. C’mon, it’s the one cheese that confesses it’s rotten. How brave a woman can be? Underneath that ugly and deformed surface, this cheese has a very smooth texture inside. The problem of this woman is that she’s so interfering. She sticks her nose everywhere, even in places you least expect or welcome her in. There’s the blue cheese triangle, spread tube, salad dressing, beef sauce, and pasta sauce for good Heavens! Even for someone who likes her, that’s way too much.


If you’re the candid character yourself, you wouldn’t really mind her honesty. All you need is to draw your borders of privacy and you might end up being best friends. If you find her remarks offensive and hate the after taste, keep your conversations general and phone calls politely short. Unless you’re allergic to blue cheese and you spend three nights in the hospital after one bite, you shouldn’t avoid it. It’s family at the end of the day. However, I’m not asking you to accept abuse. All I’m saying is that with lots of cucumbers and thick cream, blue cheese isn’t blue anymore.

“You can only be good enough for son prince if you have any royal blood of some sort.”


Can you afford Parmesan?

You can easily spot a Parmesan mother-in-law with her perfect twin-set and slim trousers. There’s no trace of grey hair – even if she’s veiled. She has a straight posture, cutting stare, pointy nose and flawless manicured nails. Love her or not, we all want to at least look like her in our 60’s. Take Aunt Eman, for example, she’s a model Parmesan woman. She’s very chic and posh; but too bad, she demands everything and everyone around her to be so, too. You can only be good enough for son prince if you have any royal blood of some sort.


A kilogram of Parmesan cheese costs as much as 10 large combos of McDonalds. Even if you can afford it, it’s not an ordinary everyday breakfast item. You have to miss it to enjoy it. Don’t try too hard with your Parmesan mother-in-law. To her, that’s so not classy. Don’t indulge her into your PMSing, labor or stretch marks. She doesn’t want to know these icky details. She can only grant her support in window shopping for the carpet you want for your living room. They’re born with superb taste. Also remember that an etiquette tip or two will always impress your charm school principle.


No dry angles for the triangles:

Who wants a triangle cheese sandwich? All hands up. You have to be a no cheese eater to dislike triangle cheese. Maybe it’s because of how familiar and common it is. Just like Aunt Zainab, she reminds you of your school friend’s cool mom when you were young; the one who was chubby, funny and took you all cruising in her car with music playing really loud. She’s also trusted by the parents. Wasn’t that a perfect scenario? You adore it. You can eat the whole packet with no bread and your parents won’t see it unhealthy. Everyone is happy.


Twenty years later, you still find her light and reliable. She welcomes you with a bear hug and loves babysitting her grandchildren. She always has an absurd story about a cousin, a neighbor, or even herself. Now you know where your husband got his sense of humor. She has no hard feelings towards anyone or anything. Everyone envies you for having such a supportive mother-in-law. Speaking of envy and jealousy, unlike during your childhood your mother might not be all excited about your growing friendship with your mother-in-law.

“Now you know where your husband got his sense of humor. She has no hard feelings towards anyone or anything. Everyone envies you for having such a supportive mother-in-law.”

Clash of civilizations:

You have to be extremely brave and open minded to like “Mish”. Eating something that comes from a very different background, sets you on fire and by all means unhealthy, requires applaud and respect. Like “Mish”, Edith doesn’t adapt to your ways, not even come to a mid point. When you met your dual nationality husband, you didn’t know what hit you. He had the looks, the brains and one extra passport. Least that you know, that Edith might be your mother-in-law. She’s sharp and sour. It took you a lot of effort to get used to her dissimilar culture.


You can’t eat “Mish” with toast. If you asked for it and wanted to taste the culture, you might do it the proper way. Tear a slip of “Feteer”, dip it into the plate of “Mish”, draw a half circle, expertly form a cone like shape, and munch it all. Does that mean you’ll forget your cold cuts and scrambled eggs breakfast? No. You’re only taking the cultural experience to the max. Edith won’t be threatened by you or worried you’ll erase her son’s half heritage. She’ll feel you’re truly family. And you’ll learn a lot more about your husband.


What do we learn?

Cheese and mother-in-laws are always there; the key is to know which is healthy, which isn’t, what is the right mixture with every kind, what is the right quantity for you, and what to avoid all together. When it comes to me, I have to buy my husband his favorite cheese. If he loves it that much, there’s no harm in sharing it with him in his meals. That way, he’ll share mine, too. This is what marriage is all about.


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