When Otis is at preschool and Rupert is napping, Mama and I Love to pass the time watching Arabic cooking videos with a cup of string coffee in hand. These Arabic recipe videos aren’t the trendy, neat ones that you see going viral on social media, but long, unedited, detailed, raw and delicious. We sit for ages discussing with surprise the ingredients, or saying what we would do differently and deciding if we could manage to make it for supper if I run out to the shops right now! These videos get hundreds of comments on them- almost every single one about how someone’s mother did it just like that or just a bit differently- hundreds of Arab women from around the world remembering their mother and grandmothers through these wonderful videos. this really made me think about the important that we women play in the cultural heritage of our countries. Especially us who fight everyday to justify our existence and maintain our identity in spite of occupation, war and displacement.
It’s been a tough few months for my husband at work. He has a new job and it comes with some pretty hefty responsibilities. I was talking to mama about this and she said ‘well, we’ll need to make something extra special for dinner tonight’. And this is the essence of Palestinian thinking; that food makes things better. It nurtures, celebrates, rescues, transports, warms and cheers up.
When we moved to the UK in the late 1990s, finding our ‘own food’ was so hard. You couldn’t find staples like halloumi, hummus, zataar, sumac, fresh herbs, vine leaves etc, certainly not in central Hertfordshire where we were living. We used to stockpile when we were back in the middle east, go without or make/grow our own. These days it’s much easier to find what we need and like in the regular supermarkets, however we still have to make and grow some things that we need.