Advanced Arabic

It’s hard to believe its been almost a year since I registered for an Advanced Arabic course.  My original intention was to improve my communication skills with the many friends I made over the course of my research on the local foods of the Galilee. I wish I could say that I retained even half of all that I learned over those very intense fourth months.  One of the unanticipated outcomes of the program, however, was the inspiration to write about the process. Happily, Naamat Women Magazine decided to publish that piece, which I share with you here, fresh from the latest summer issue.

salim shows me

Old Friends – New Setting

chicory

To everything there is a season.  And now it is summer and I am in Washington, DC, with much to engage my forager’s eye – from the yards of beautiful homes whose considerate landscapers planted herbs as part of their design scheme, to the honeysuckle covering fences, there for the sipping. Fortuitously, my sister Jocelyn […]

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Two Weeks into the Omer

farike making

We are now almost two weeks into the Omer – the 49 plus one days that are counted between Passover and Shavuoth.  In a region that has basically two seasons – winter and summer, the Omer, which bridges between them, has always been a period of tremendous climatic uncertainty, with drastic implications for agriculture. So […]

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The First, First Fruits of Spring

pre pesach wheat field

Early on in Arabic class, we learned the names for the seasons of the year, and one of the topics for discussion was, “what is your favorite season?”   Visiting in Kufar Manda to practice my lessons, I took up this conversation with Abu Malek and Um Malek. I like winter best, I told them. The […]

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The Limitations of Cultural Identity for Food

pat out bread

I recently visited my old friend Ayoub in Fassouta up near the Lebanese border in the Western Galilee – one of the few Arab villages populated almost, if not entirely by Christians. Ayoub’s wife likes to use a certain kind of rennet for making cheese from the goat’s milk from their herd, and I had […]

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I could make ftayir myself

ftayer 1

I have the recipe and all the ingredients. But preparing these little wild spinach filled pastries is one of those tasks that is more fun with a friend, and so I took the two bags of greens I’d gathered and went to visit one of my most esteemed culinary mentors, Um Malek, at her home […]

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Winter Does Not Apply

feb 26 find

February is arguably the dreariest month of the year, and at this point my family and friends in the United States and Europe are paralyzed with winter fatigue.  While winters here in the Galilee are generally mild, this past month we’ve been treated to several snowstorms and in recent days I’ve even had to pull […]

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A Fresh Look at Some Local Foods

habissa

I was flipping through some photographs I’d taken recently, and found these three images, all which show interesting ways that indigenous local foods are processed in Galilee Palestinian society. This is a photograph of luf (arum palaestinum), which was collected this winter during the season it grows wild in the area around Nazareth. I took […]

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Basil – Permitted

basil in mosque

   This fall, I enrolled in an intensive conversational Arabic course at one of the country’s top language programs.  I had taken several two-hour once-a-week courses in the past, but was still incapable of expressing myself much beyond “my name is…, I live in…,” and my desire to communicate in Arabic remained as strong as ever.  Pricey and […]

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Jordan Chickpeas

jordan chickpeas

Christmas in mainstream Jewish Israel is a non-event, but in the Galilee, where 50% of the population is Arab, it’s another story.  In those Arab cities and towns where there is a Christian population, Christmas lights and decorations light up the evenings, and nighttime Christmas bazaars attract visitors, regardless of religion, over the weekend before the […]

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