A Travellerspoint blog

A Taste of Arabia

semi-overcast 88 °F

I spent the weekend at my Arabic friends parent's home in the Galilee region. We had some of the most delicious food I have ever tasted. Most are traditional dishes that have been served for generations. Some of those foods include the following:

Kubbe is a rich blend of lemon, onion, cinnamon, allspice, bulgur and raw goat meat. Yes, you read that right raw goat meat! It is all ground and rolled into torpedo shaped balls. Because the meat is raw the patties are a bright red addition to the dinner plate.

Kanefi is a savory combination of rice, shredded goat or lamb meat (cooked!) and cinnamon. It is delicious with a little dollop of yogurt mixed in.

Warak enab mehshi is grape leaves stuffed with rice and spices. It is tangy because it has lemon juice spritzed on it too. It is absolutely delicious dipped in yogurt.

Manakish resembles a mini pizza. The crust is similar to pita. It is brushed with olive oil and generously sprinkled with za'atar. Za'atar is an Arabic blend of thyme, oregano, marjoram, toasted sesame seeds and salt. Sometimes there is cheese melted on top as well.

Tabbouleh is a delicious salad made of tomato, bulgur, mint, parsley, onion and a lemon juice dressing.

Mamool is a cookie sweetened with rose water or orange flower water and stuffed with either pistachios, walnuts or dates. Before it is baked it is pressed with a wooden mold. The shape from the mold is supposed to differentiate what it is filled with. I never figured out the pattern though. After it has been baked and cooled it is dusted with powdered sugar.

Baklava is a rich, sticky pastry made of layers of filo dough, chopped nuts, honey and butter.

Knafeh is very popular here because it originated in the West Bank. It is a super rich dessert made by taking shredded dough (which kind of look like angel hair pasta) and covering it with soft white cheese, pine nuts and a sugar syrup. All of this is baked. Somehow it has the brightest orange top you will ever see. I am convinced they use some kind of food coloring to get it that orange.

All meals were served with a delicious salad. An Israeli salad consists of finely chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, and red onion and minced herbs such as basil or cilantro. There is no lettuce in Israeli salads. Heaps of pickles and home grown olives were also served at every meal. Usually there were bowls of spicy homemade hummus, lebanah (a creamy, white cheese served with olive oil) and home harvested honey for dipping pita into.

Each morning steaming cups of tea were served. The tea is made with herbs that grow wild in the Galilean fields. A typical breakfast consists of eggs, pita, salad and olives.

Throughout the day, tiny cups of Arabic coffee were served. Cardamon is what makes the flavor of Arabic coffee unique.

For snacking on, we enjoyed watermelon, dried fruit, and cooked beans which are eaten as a finger food.

Most of the recipes for the dishes I described above along with pictures can be found at this web site: http://www.blogcatalog.com/blog/arabic-food-recipes

Posted by Sarah 2116 05:51 Comments (3)

Transforming the Keyboard

sunny 95 °F

After writing the post about making the sushi where I included the Hebrew words for the vegetables we used, I realized something was missing from my computer. I have the Hebrew font but it was taking me forever to find which key had what Hebrew letter hidden inside it. To save time, I bought little stickers from an office supply store that are specially made to add to computer keys. So from now on, expect to read more detailed posts!


...and after!

Posted by Sarah 2116 11:41 Archived in Israel Comments (0)

This is How I Roll

semi-overcast 88 °F

On Sunday my friend Yarden and I made sushi! First we chopped cucumbers (מלפפוך) onion (בצל) avocado (אבוקדו) smoked fish (דג) carrots (גזר) into thin strips.


We added rice vinegar (חומצ) sugar (סכור) and salt (מלח) to cooked white rice. Then the layering and rolling began!


The first few rolls were super stuffed because we spread to much rice on the wrapper. But eventually we got the right ratio figured out.


Finally we cut all the rolls into sushi circles and made wasabi sauce for dipping.


!טע'ם (Yummy!)

Posted by Sarah 2116 04:32 Comments (2)

This Weekend in Jerusalem

semi-overcast 89 °F

I spent Shabbat in Jerusalem. The city is very quiet on Shabbat. My friends and I wandered the solitary streets in the part referred to as the new city although everything in Jerusalem looks old. But considering the old city is thousands of years old, comparatively, the new city is young! Jerusalem is extremely interesting. I love all the little plants potted in the most unusually unconventional containers. One interesting home had this pottery numbers collection.


The history in Jerusalem is so rich. We passed this poem inscribed on a fence:

With every generation I am diminished:
My children I share with my wife,
In my grandchildren I am a junior partner,
Of my great grandchildren I have an eighth,
Or less. And then there are the third generation
And forth and fifth generation,
And those who have neither names nor nicknames,
I shrink approaching zero, and the branches
On my family tree lengthen
Into my future, going back to my roots,
Sinking down to the ultimate depths
The warm void where my life begins.
- Elisha Porat

It is hard to believe this same quaint little city absorbed in Shabbat slumber was also the site of a weekend long riot. The brawl was over whether or not a parking lot should be aloud to be kept open over Shabbat. The mayor decided that a particular lot should be aloud to remain opened over Shabbat. The ultra religious considered it a matter worth raising a ruckus over. First, tens of thousands assembled on Bar Ilan Road for prayer. The action began the following day and included demonstrations which led to protesters hurling bottles, fruit and rocks at the police force and several dumpster fires. So far nothing was accomplished except several injuries and 60 arrests. You can read the full story by following the link below:
Today the mayor received two death threats by ultra religious groups if he fails to adhere to the their demand to keep the parking lots closed.
Why, in a land already racked with drama from all sides, would additional drama be so inflicted from within?

Posted by Sarah 2116 13:48 Comments (4)

Robin Hood Teaches Hebrew

semi-overcast 86 °F

I have a new language learning tactic. I have found trying to watch the News or listen to the radio here to be pretty much pointless because they talk way to fast for me to be able to understand. But kids stuff I can totally keep up with. My vocabulary is still really basic so I find myself literally hanging on every word to inconsequential shows like Sesame Street and Dora the Explorer. When I have time I borrow kids DVD's to watch from a friend of mine. So far I have watched Pride and Prejudice, Chicken Little, Ratatouille and Robin Hood. Sometimes I turn on English subtitles so I don't get to lost. On my own I usually only understand half a sentence but between context and the subtitles I can piece together the rest. My favorite movie line for the week is from Robin Hood. I actually burst out laughing when one of the castle guards cried: חשח אחד והכל בשד (hasha echad v'h'kol beseder) "It's one o'clock and all is well!"

This week we began learning past tense. We have covered only the first two out of seven groups (not counting many subgroups) for verbs. We have handy little charts to fill in all the verbs we learn in class so we can see the conjugating flow. Just like in English, the root of the word pretty much stays the same. The ending however is based on the gender of the subject and the tense (past, present or future). In English we just call objects "it" not he or she but in Hebrew everything is masculine or feminine. A notebook, for example, is always feminine. A head is always masculine. So any descriptions need to follow the correct gender unless it is an exception; which there are many. I even learned how to say "exception" in Russian because the teacher says the word so often. (It's ee-sklu-chay-nya for anyone who cares to know!) Anyway, there are nine possible endings for the word "forgot" depending on the gender of the one who has forgotten. There are five possible endings for the word "forget" again, depending on if it is a woman or a man, singular or plural, who is forgetting. It sounds more confusing than it is. If I have my little chart in front of me it feels like a piece of cake. Even without the chart I can usually remember the flow. Carmella played a game with us where she threw us a ball and shouted out a pronoun and a verb in present tense and while we caught the ball and tossed it back we had to change it to past tense. That was a great drill. I am a little nervous about what complications are hidden behind the other five groups that we haven't tackled yet but that is Sundays worry because we have the weekend off (Friday and Saturday). Yeah!

Posted by Sarah 2116 03:41 Comments (2)

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