The Luf Challenge

Posted on December 1, 2008

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This is Luf. Now that there have been several good rains, it seems like every day a new luf plant appears in my yard.  Challenging me. 

In traditional Galilee Arab cooking, luf is not only a delicacy, but is considered to have powerful medicinal properties. A doctor I know told me of families bringing pots of luf to relatives in the oncology wards.  My experience, however, has been somewhat the opposite.

As a natural protective mechanism, luf is full of a kind of toxin. If you know how to prepare it properly, however, this toxin can be neutralized.  Two winters ago, my Bedouin friend Nadya, explained to me how this is done: you just use lots of lemon juice when you cook it. 

Following her instructions, I picked a nice handful of leaves, chopped them and sautéed them in oil, squeezing copious amounts of juice on the little green pile.  And in fact, it was delicious – until my entire mouth and throat started to prickle and swell. Trying not to panic, I sucked on a piece of lemon and after a few minutes, the symptoms subsided.  Last year, luf and I kept our distance.

But this year, I am ready to try again.  In my edible wild plants class, our teacher explained his own system for cooking luf – using wild sorrel leaves as the neutralizing agent. 

Perhaps eating luf for generations builds up some kind of tolerance – which I am, sadly, not the beneficiary of.  When I told Nadya about my luf experience, she just laughed. But the last laugh will be mine.  I am making a solemn vow that spring will not arrive without my having prepared, eaten, and enjoyed luf.   As blog is my witness.

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