Days of rage and reckoning

The theme running through the last week is a type of descent into chaos. The shy and retiring president of that obscure North American country seems intent on stoking the fires of Armageddon wherever he can. He challenged Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby on his knowledge of biblical truths when the latter published a letter from heads of…

In the dark

This blog is not about hummus, nor about bread. It is about another kind of bread and butter: being able to live in security. Without that, all of life’s other needs, rights, desires, and joys can never be fully realised. In the occupied West Bank in Palestine, most people I met live under a shadow…

Hummus part 1: origins

Hummus means chickpeas in Arabic.  I like to think hummus also derives from humus, the Latin word for soil, which, rumour has it, is where the word human comes from.  Even if that might be fake news, it would reinforce how essential this little pulse is, its derivative dip constituting the heartbeat of many Middle…

Feeling kneady

‘As I wrote Exit West, I found the language changing as the chapters progressed. The sentences grew longer, became more incantatory, like a magic spell. Like a prayer. Which seemed fitting to me. We write what we most need.’ Mohsin Hamid. These words are compelling, but I wonder about their simplicity, in the doubtless uber-mediated world…

Bitter sweet

I remember a story from my childhood – told to me by my grandmother, perhaps –about Jesus sitting under a palm tree, maybe in Jericho, and tasting his first date. Surprised by its delicious, sweet taste, he uttered an ‘o’; and this is the reason for the small ‘o’ you can see on the stones…

Eggs-perimentation and Allot-of-iteration

It may have appeared quiet on the Middle Eastern front (well, only from the perspective of my blogging, since quiet it never is in the Middle East) but there has been plenty of action in the test kitchen. In a recent break from tradition, I deviated from my tendency to religiously adhere to recipes. That…

For the love of Yog

We have a (friendly) debate going in our household about which is better, Greek or Turkish yoghurt. Greek is, naturally, but let’s humour the arguments for a minute. Greek is delicious in its rich, creamy thickness, divine drizzled with honey and mixed with fresh summer fruits, and equally scrumptious in what is surely the best cucumber…

Smells like the desert

‘What is this? It smells and tastes like the desert’, one of my guests remarked at my marathon Palestinian meal served close to two weeks ago (and whose recipes I still haven’t fully revealed). We all turned to him inquisitively: ‘what does the desert taste like?’ a couple of voices chimed in unison. He went…

On madness, mahshi, and marathons

What a week. Donald Trump continued on his marathon of political insanity, shamelessly and flippantly making statements about solutions to the Palestine-Israel conflict as if choosing between two-state and one-state was the same as choosing what make of car to buy. Infuriating stuff. In somewhat less high-profile news, I too seemed to compete with, if not…

Delirium T-remmen-s

Ah, the mighty pomegranate. Such a beautiful and seductive fruit; its leathery red skin and multitude of succulent ruby seeds bearing age-old myths and evoking ancient longings. According to Joudie Kalla, who I am cooking along with during her three-week Guardian residency, across the Middle East the pomegranate (remmen or rumman, in Arabic) is a…

A new chapter

It’s a new year and I am back in London after my sabbatical walkabout, but still with both the Middle East, and food, on my mind. After Lebanon I went on to Palestine and Israel as an Ecumenical Accompanier, and spent three months providing protection by presence to communities living under occupation in Hebron. The…

One month reflections….

These last couple of weeks I’ve been in the Beirut restaurant kitchen more and enjoying it. Every day a different lady comes in and if language permits, I get to hear a different story, and if I’m lucky, nab a recipe or two. This week I nabbed a recipe for Baklawa bi Halib, (baklava but not…