[Chip] Growing up in a rural part of the United States, there were not many options for cultural diffusion in the area.  My hometown featured only two restaurants with food outside of traditional burgers and fries, both of which specialized in domesticated versions of cuisine (read: Taco Bell and Chinese take-out). We did have the local library and a general science museum, but outside of these two bastions, there was little hope for an international culture enthusiast, such as myself.  Fortunately, I had two well-traveled parents who believed in educating their children about the wonders of the entire globe.  My mother and father accomplished this through sharing fantastic tales of their life experiences and exposing me and my siblings to a wealth of interesting books and films.  Of the movies we watched, very few featured the allure of foreign people and places as the animated classic, Aladdin.


As a child, I adored the story and characters of this Arabian fable; I was fascinated at the idea that an entire world of mythology and legends existed outside of traditional European fairy tales.  After watching Aladdin once more recently, I am pleased that the transition to adulthood has not diminished these heartfelt emotions.  However, I now realize that there is quite a bit of cultural humor and references that were completely lost on me as a boy.  I had no idea why the Genie advised people to “brush up your Sunday salaam,” and just who was this “Allah” to whom the Sultan was referring?  It took moving away and getting a job in a rather diverse community for me to fully appreciate the culture from which this Disney adaptation sprouted.

When I first moved away from home, I was a bit concerned that I would not fit in with the hustle and bustle of a larger city.  After all, those people up North did not the time to be polite to one another; they did not have our Southern hospitality (hence the name).  I was very pleased to find that not only were these prejudices wrong, but just plain silly.  At my new workplace, I met a variety of people from all over the world, each of whom was eager to share their kindness and their culture with a newcomer.  One particular coworker hailed from the Middle East, and he took the time to answer my barrage of questions and explain the traditions of his people.  He spoke of Islam and family traditions, of religious holidays and fasting, but most of all, he talked about the food of the Middle East.

Anytime his family had a large meal at home, he would bring leftovers so we could all share in the feast.  For the first time in my life, I tried dates and figs, stuffed grape leaves and falafel, and so many varieties of hummus that my taste buds danced and sang with delight.  A whole new world of culinary delights had opened in my life, and I felt one step closer to the culture in Aladdin.  In an effort to recreate some of these tasty foods, Laura and I decided to have a stay-at-home date night with Aladdin (both in film and Super Nintendo game) and some Middle Eastern cuisine.  We made a Moroccan chicken stew, which we enjoyed with dates, strong coffee, and pita bread.  We even had our first go at making our own hummus:

Adapted from

1 cup cooked chickpeas, drained
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons tahini
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ tsp Paprika Salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Combine the chickpeas, garlic, tahini, and lemon juice in a food processor and puree. Gradually add the olive oil until incorporated. Season the hummus with salt, pepper, and Paprika and scrape it into a bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve or use.

We recommend you refrigerate the hummus overnight before serving for the best flavor. Also, roasting the garlic might smooth the flavors a bit more. Raw garlic chunks can be a little…potent…

[Laura] Aladdin is such a fun little platformer. So much of the environment can be jumped on, swung upon, or knocked over. The music is cute, the animation is wonderful, and if you catch a good rhythm, it’s easy to just breeze through the levels. It’s a wonderful game, but I have a couple of issues with it:


First, there are the arrows. The problem I have with the archers in Aladdin is the same problem I have with the frogs in Mega Man 2. It just seems like no matter how well I time it, I’m always going to get hit by something that is going to nudge me off the edge of whatever I’m trying to stand on. Aladdin is not a fast climber, which is understandable I suppose, but not very convenient. Often, I would be climbing up a ledge watching in horror as the archer reloaded and shot an arrow that would push me back of said ledge to restart this sequence again and again and again. This isn’t really a bad game mechanic, but little frustrations like that tend to make me rage quit (or throw the controller at Chip’s head and make him do it).


Also, the enemies respawn. Not once you’ve cleared the level, or after a few minutes, but immediately after you have moved beyond the spot they were sitting. Meaning if you have to backtrack, even a little bit, that enemy comes back to bite you in the ass. This is a huge turn-off for me on this game. It doesn’t make sense that an enemy wouldn’t stay dead and having to fight them all over again if I need to move backwards is just busy-work.  Yet another convention of old games that did not age well over time.

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