Eaters and a story from the Galilee to the Negev.. A project to restore Palestine’s food map

“Kubba is always presented as a Lebanese dish, although the best people who make it on a regional level are the women of Yarka,” west of Hebron, al-Nabulsi says.

Ramallah- When we asked researcher Razi Al-Nabulsi about the project during the evening of launching his research project “Food and a Story” in the hall of the Abdul Mohsin Al-Qattan Foundation in Ramallah, he said that it stems from “the question of what is Palestine and its borders?”

The answer seemed far from the question, but he explained that the Palestinian food map was scattered like the geographical map due to the political circumstances, and what he seeks with this project is to restore it again, combined without occupation borders, barriers, a green line or a separation wall.

Kneading the intention kibbeh from the recipes of the Galilee region in the evening of “Eat and a story” (Al-Jazeera)

The story of “six averages”

And from Galilee, where he belongs, “Eat and Story” was the beginning. The intention kibbeh and the story “Sit Al Moadarat” prepared by Mrs. Badr (70 years old). In the presentation of the two stories, the story of Palestine was from the time of the Ottoman Empire, as it is believed that the Turks introduced red pepper, one of the ingredients of the meal, to our country.

Through the British mandate, which introduced the spice “Abu Riha” from Jamaica, which is the most prominent characteristic of the cuisine in the Galilee. Until the Israeli occupation, whose racist policies forced Ms. Badr to live in two settlement rooms under her house, and she left her home to one of her sons because of the prevention of Palestinians from expanding construction in Arab villages.

Al-Nabulsi told Al-Jazeera Net, “Today, Palestinian cuisine is poorly read and defined, and as part of the political system that defines Palestine as the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.”

Tasting the intention kibbeh by the attendees during the preparation (Al Jazeera)

Searching for the taste and aroma of Galilee

He began thinking about this documentary research project, which was supported by the Abdul Mohsen Al-Qattan Foundation, by Al-Nabulsi, based on questions in his head about the difference between recipes and dishes from the Galilee, where he spent his childhood and their counterparts in Jerusalem, where he stayed for studies, and then Ramallah, where he lived for work. , Salfit his wife’s town. For years, he has been trying to restore the taste and aroma of the foods his mother used to cook in these areas, to no avail.

These questions were completed in his head when he was accompanying his friend, Chef Saeed Sweidan, to learn Palestinian cooking from his mother in the Galilee. Suwaidan also has his story in researching Palestinian food. He is from Haifa, and he continued his passion for learning cooking after studying philosophy and sociology. He studied cooking and practiced it in restaurants abroad.

Bulgur with red pepper paste during the “Akleh and Story” evening (Al Jazeera)

Years later, he began to realize that he did not know how to prepare Palestinian food, as his Swiss mother did not prepare it at home. Which made him return to Palestine in search of the secrets of Palestinian cuisine.

Suwaidan, 32, believes that Palestinian cuisine has not taken its right to be documented and spread in the world, which is what he seeks through this research. He continued to Al Jazeera Net, “Our Palestinian kitchen is creative and contains many details that deserve to reach the world and turn into a global cuisine.”

Suwaidan sees another peculiarity in learning this cuisine from the experienced, especially the elderly women who have the secrets of these recipes in detail. “Unfortunately, the new generation does not care about these recipes, and does not fully master them,” he said.

Chef Sweidan and researcher Nabulsi seek to introduce Palestinian cuisine (Al-Jazeera)

4 kitchens not one

His first window was to learn about the Palestinian cuisine from the Galilee, and specifically the recipes of Nabulsi’s mother, due to the friendship that unites them. Hence the research that answers the researcher’s questions and enhances the chef’s expertise.

Nabulsi says, “The first answer that we got after months of research is that we deal with several different kitchens and there is not a single Palestinian kitchen. Our project is to study these kitchens and draw clear lines to formulate the food map of Palestine.”

According to Nabulsi, the Palestinian restaurant today is divided between what the refugees offer about the foods of the areas from which they were displaced, and the Galilee cuisine served by the Palestinians of the occupied interior, and the cuisine of the West Bank and Jerusalem, without mentioning that Palestine before it turned into a colony was part of its historical Arab extension that was affected In his kitchens and influenced them.

“Here, we are trying to find out what Palestinian cuisine means as part of the cultural identity that makes up Palestine?”

The project started from the Galilee kitchen by preparing the kibbeh during the “Eat and a Story” evening (Al Jazeera)

According to the project, research will be conducted in the Galilee kitchen, then the kitchen of the areas extending from the Triangle, Tulkarm, Nablus, Salfit and Jenin, then the kitchen of the center, which includes Jerusalem, Ramallah, Bethlehem and the Negev, all the way to the Gaza kitchen.

While the Nabulsi researcher was recounting the intention of the kibbeh in the Galilee, Chef Suwaidan was preparing it in front of dozens of attendees, recalling the commandments of Badr while kneading the bulgur with red pepper “stretch your hands” and a lot of “Abu Rayha” spice, and that the meat be from the brown “skull”, and a lot Than pour olive oil on it.

Chef Suwaidan and the Nabulsi researcher during the preparation of the intention kibbeh (Al Jazeera)

Eaters of weddings and mourning breaks

This kibbeh is not an ordinary dish, says Suwaidan, as it has been associated with social occasions in these areas, as it is “the wedding eater”, and when families who lost one of them cook it, it means that they have lifted their mourning.

The preparation of the kibbeh on these occasions is a collective ritual, as the women of Galilee used to gather at the dawn of the wedding day to “knock” the meat in the jar, and knead the bulgur to present it to everyone who attends the wedding, a difficult task that requires years of experience to gain one of them the confidence of the people of her town that she has “mastered” kibbeh. Intention, as is the case with Badr.

The preparation of the intention kibbeh is similar, according to Sweidan, in all the towns of Galilee, except in Yarka, located in the western foothills of the Upper Galilee Mountains, where hot red pepper is used to knead the bulgur, and the oil is not used in the kneading, but rather placed on the final dish.

Also, “Kibbeh Yarka” is different in its social climate, as it is served to any guest received by families there, as it is always present at weddings and others. “Kubba is always presented as a Lebanese dish, although the best people who make it on a regional level are the women of Yarka,” Nabulsi says.

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