ISRAEL & PALESTINE - FOOD AS A BRIDGE TO FRIENDSHIP & PEACE
Abbie Rosner - Alonei Aba,
When I moved to a farming village in the
When I chose to develop writing as a creative outlet, my first project was to document the foraging of the local Bedouins. Over the course of doing my “research”, I discovered that initiating a dialogue over the subject of food was an extremely efficient way to overcome suspicion, hostility and timidity. Bedouin men and women who were total strangers graciously shared what they knew about these plants, their culinary and medicinal values, and even invited me to their homes to teach me how to cook them.
Out of that experience, I knew I had discovered my passion – to use food as
a means to explore the
In Breaking Bread in Galilee – A Culinary Journey into the Promised Land,
I describe that journey, as I traced foodways that are described in the Bible,
as they are still being practiced today – particularly in the rural Palestinian
communities of the
With Abu Malek, a retired schoolteacher, I struggled over weekly Arabic lessons, with breaks to discuss how food figures in the stories of the Bible and the Koran, while his wife, Um Malek rolled grape leaves or plucked the leaves off stems of malukhiya.
And I spent long hours with Balkees, a gifted Palestinian cook, mother and
friend, who grew up on the local foods of the
Over time, as our friendship developed, her immediate and extended family came to know and trust me, and accept me into their hearts.
With Balkees as my guide, I have harvested green wheat with a hand-held sickle, the heads of wheat roasted over an open fire to produce “farike” – the parched grain of the Bible. We have worked long days picking olives together, and shared the joy of watching the pure thick oil emerging in a fresh green stream from the press. We have picked okra and zucchini, growing in fields devoid of irrigation – as it was done for thousands of years, depending solely on water from the heavens and the earth.
Balkees, like most Arab women in the
A Recipe: Galilean Mejadra
And Esau said to Jacob, “Give me some of that red stuff to gulp down, for I am famished”… Genesis 25:30
Mejadra is most commonly known as a Middle Eastern dish pairing
lentils and rice. In the
Cook 1/2 cup of small black lentils in 4 cups boiling water until soft. In the meantime, sauté 4 chopped onions in 1/3 cup olive oil until very brown but not burned. Once the onions are brown, add 2 cups of water to the pan and stir well. When the water has almost boiled away, add 2 cups of coarsely ground bulgur and mash it into the onions with a wooden spoon. When the lentils are soft, add them, plus as much as their cooking water as you need, to more than cover the bulgur. The type of lentils and bulgur used, and how much water is left in the onions, will determine how much liquid to add. You can always add more liquid or let the excess cook away. When the bulgur is cooked through, season with salt to taste.
For more, check out Abbie Rosner’s book, Breaking Bread in Galilee – A Culinary Journey into the Promised Land.