Thursday, August 16, 2007

Angry Manoucheh 2

To those who asked questions in the comments section of the manoucheh post:

1. Indeed, manoucheh is the arabic word for patterned, and what has been posted is correct. for those interested, Barbara Masaad has written a comprehensive book on Manoucheh with tons of illustrations.

2. There are at least 4 types of zaatar consumed in Lebanon and they belong to 2 different genera: Oreganum and Thymus. From memory, I think the most common ones are O. syriacum and T. edulis. In arabic the zaatar with rounded furry leaves is also called zube3 in north Lebanon and zaatar akhdar (green). It is sold by itinerant bedouin women who go around the streets (especially in poorer neighborhoods) shouting "yalla az zaatar". There is also zaatar barri with small rounded leathery leaves and zaatar dakkah which is pickled and looks like small pine needles. There is also zaatar akhdar (!) which has longish (2 cm) tender green leaves, is sold in shops alongside mint and coriander and rocca and is eaten in salads with rocca and onions in most restaurants that offer mezze. It is not used for making the zaatar mix.

3. Bedouina you can make the manousheh on the oven top, that's how it was made traditionally: on the saj. It was also called bak'a in jabal amel. women used to make it after making the markouk bread; they made a thicker loaf, cooked it and then put the zaatar on it when it was ready and gave it to the children who would be waiting for this treat. The reason they use a concave inverted wok (saj) is that it allows for better distribution of heat and a more even cooking.

4. Sophia: Olive oil tasting a a complex matter, but it is unusual to describe it as spicy or sweet. it is usually called: fruity, earthy and such adjectives. But I think i know what you mean. Lets assume we start with oil of good quality, which is not often the case in Lebanon (many reasons for that). Young oil (recently pressed) is also called "khadeer" in Koura. It has not matured yet and "burns" (btish3at) the throat when you eat it. It has the taste of the green fruit. Once it matures (after a few weeks) this "burn" disappear in the same way that the bitterness of the new green olives disappears: the aromatics are transformed. So it becomes as your father said: sweet. If olive oil is badly conserved (a whole different topic) it acidifies, and its taste becomes rancid, which can also be described as "spicy" or pungent. So you are right too. Except that you and your father are talking about two different things.


Sophia said...

Thanks Rami. I like olive oil when it burns the throat. I think I will have to be in Lebanon for the next harvest if I am to retrieve this taste again. You are right about olive oil from Lebanon. When I don't have some sent from my village, and it is not often that I do, I buy in Montreal fair trade Palestinian olive oil from pal-arc. It is exceptionally good and is sold at a very reasonable price.

Leila A - Bedouina said...

Here's a picture of me as a baby watching my grandmother bake bread; grandfather tends fire and bint 'ammi pounds dough.

Borre Ludvigsen of Al Mashriq lived in MiehMieh as a child, and in the 90s befriended my parents so he put up some of my dad's old photos. This photo taken by Elias Abu-Saba in 1964 in MiehMieh.

I remember baking day very clearly (I lived there in 1970 for a year, returned for the summers of '72 and '74) so of course I know about how mana'eesh is made at home in the traditional way... It only just occurred to me that the American cast iron skillet on the stove top is a closer approximation than baking inside an American oven on a cookie sheet.

Leila A - Bedouina said...

I blogged this post and my saj picture at Dove's Eye View:

Marcy / مارسي said...

beautiful posts, rami. but it's making me homesick for manaousheh and there is none here in the land of lebanese restaurants with hebrew writing on their storefront windows.