‘Anything you can do, I can do better. I can do anything better than you’ my mother would say encouraging me to repeat after her. She would do this if I exhibited any self-doubt or when I felt excluded by my brothers or my classmates. It’s not surprising that she would insist on me being confident and self-assured when she herself had to be, especially as she had to go against the grain so often in her life to do what she wanted to do.
Having won a scholarship through the World Lutheran Federation to go to university in Sweden at the age of 18 she packed her bags, had the tailor make her a smart pencil skirt suit (in the Style of Jackie Kennedy, of course!) and got the boat to Beirut, then a plane to Stockholm via Zurich. ‘I must have looked so ridiculous stood there staring at the moving steps- I’d never seen or heard of anything like it before. Finally, a man in a suit grabbed me by the shoulders and lifted me onto the escalator and held me tightly until we got to the top’ she remembers of her stopover in Zurich. Mama prioritized her education over anything else including marriage and staying at home, which was considered strange in Palestine in the 60s. Of course, she didn’t know that accepting an offer to education would lead to her forced permanent displacement from her home land a few years later when Israel occupied the West Bank and Jerusalem in 1967.
I can’t imagine how different my life might have been if my mother hadn’t gone to Sweden to take her degree. And I find it so surreal that my mother was a beneficiary of a programme similar to the type that I have managed in the past, which we foolishly attempted to assess the impact of over a 6-month period when my own personal experience is that it takes a lifetime to properly assess impact of these life-changing programmes! Try telling donors that!
Anyway, needless to say my mother experienced enormous culture shock on arriving in Sweden- different politics, different food and very different weather. And Ijah is one of the first things she made herself to eat to remind her of home; easy, cheap, healthy and delicious: just what every student needs.
2 eggs, beaten
1 tbsp plain flour, sieved
10 mls of milk
½ red onion, diced
Handful fresh parsley, chopped
1 tbsp dried mint, crushed
Extra Virgin Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Fry the diced red onion in the olive oil on a medium heat until translucent, and smelling beautiful
Beat all the ingredients together (including the cooked onion) until they are a nice light consistency and season to taste
Fry in the olive oil on a medium heat in a small frying pan until golden.
Makes about 8