Thursday, February 21, 2008

Two countries, one cuisine

"However, food is at the center of Palestinian social life, and is always prepared in quantities that permit the spontaneous invitation of whoever may drop in close to meal time. Most home food preparation is performed by women. As elderly Palestinians commonly reside with their children (often the eldest son), three generations of women often work together in cooking and processing food, and the many hours spent in the kitchen provide for the passage of both culinary and other forms of wisdom from one generation to another.

Lunch: The main meal of the day, lunch is typically taken around two in the afternoon. Many offices shut down so employees can eat at home with their families. The basic ingredients for many dishes include rice, lamb, chicken, fish and vegetables, and common spices include cinnamon, allspice, cardamom, nutmeg and black pepper. Olive oil and samneh (clarified butter or ghee) are the most common cooking oils. Some broad categories of foods include yakhneh, meaning, generally, lamb stewed with a vegetable (green beans, spinach, various kinds of squash, etc.), and mahshi, meaning stuffed vegetables or meats. Grape, cabbage, and chard leaves are stuffed with either rice and meat or rice and vegetable, as are peppers, artichokes, turnips, a special kind of carrot, squashes, cucumbers and other vegetables. A widely eaten favorite is kousa mahshi (kousa is a local squash that resembles a plump and light-colored zucchini). Waraq 'ainab, or grape leaves, is also a favorite, often reserved for honored guests due to the amount of labor involved in preparing it. A third general category are dishes baked or roasted in a large round baking pan with a two-inch rim, called a saniyeh. Finely-ground lamb is mixed with parsely, onions and spices, formed into thin patties, and baked over potato and tomato slices. Kibbeh bi-saniyeh is pounded lamb meat mixed with onions, spices, and burghul (bulgur wheat), then baked in the oven." (Thanks Muna)

A very nice article on traditional Palestinian cuisine (similar to Lebanese cuisine).

1 comment:

Leila said...

Slightly tangential - you say that there's a tradition of parents living with their oldest son. In my village in Lebanon, the youngest son inherits the family house, and the parents end up staying there and living with him. Who gets the house in Palestinian tradition?

I will actually ask around to see about who the parents live with. It just makes sense that they would live with the son who gets the house, right?