The Gaza Kitchen
Well, this month I nearly locavore-ed myself to death. Somewhere in the good intentions of shopping farmer's markets, expanding my garden, conserving water, using up what's in the freezer, etc., I made cooking (and housework in general) such a chore that nothing less than lots of imported produce shipped via fossil fuels, lots of frozen pizza and hired help could save me. I am hoping that the same panic that fed my insanity will inspire sanity's return. Here's where some of it started...
First I discovered the theory that we are all only three days away from hunger. Shortly after this I came across a documentary on youtube that explained how Cuba nearly starved for two years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Imagine that next week you are struggling to convert your barbecue, an old baby bath, and a shoe into some kind of garden on your tiny patio. That's exactly what they did.
The next book I came across brought a new twist to the story of hunger. The Gaza Kitchen, by Laila El-Haddad and Maggie Schmitt, tells the story of the refugees of the Gaza Strip. Many were farmers who were kicked off their land. They had the skills, but no land and no money and today they rely on handouts to survive. The Gaza Kitchen records their stories, their cooking, and their resilience. At the end of it you will want to grow your own food and maybe dig a bunker.
I haven't tried the recipes from the book yet, but they all use spices and produce which are easily purchased or grown here in California. If I had a pair of breeding rabbits and a spice pantry, I'm pretty sure I could reproduce most of these recipes without even a trip to the grocery store. I've tried some Palestinian recipes before and LOVED them, so I stepped out in faith and bought a few of the things I need to get started. If you are hesitant, try Maqloubeh.
I planted dill, purchased tahini as well as toasted sesame oil to get the flavor of their red tahina, and bought mastic, or arabic gum. No idea what it is or how it tastes. I also found nigella seed, also known as kalonji. The man at the store says it's good for everything but death. I found preserved lemon at Trader Joe's and planted purslane, because they eat it and now so will I. I bought frozen molokhia to try in a stew. It's also known as jute, or Jew's Mallow, and is apparently one of the greens most eaten in Egypt, though I've never heard of it before. Everything else is familiar: chickpeas, Swiss chard, cucumbers, squash, chillies, garlic, and lemon.
This should be fun.
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I love trying new foods, cooking, and gardening. I hope to share these experiences on this site. Thanks for taking a look!