As I put the final touches on my soon-to-be-published book – Breaking Bread in Galilee – A Culinary Journey into the Promised Land – bread seems to be looming large in my consciousness. Yesterday, on a particularly enjoyable visit with the Murad family in Kfar Manda, I was lucky enough to watch Samakh baking hubs el tabun. Hubs is Arabic for bread, and the tabun is the sheet-metal oven in the front yard upon which the hubs is baked.
The beauty of Arab village life is not generally found in picturesque vistas, but in modest, authentic domestic scenes. The rocks Samakh has scattered on the round baking surface, that keep the heavy dough from sticking to it, are a direct continuation of this most ancient baking tradition. This bread is a product of wheat grown in the fields below their home and ground into flour in the mill down the street. It is dense and chewy, lumpy and full of flavor. Samakh bakes as she learned from her mother, with heat fueled by a wood fire. Watching her work the dough, I want to etch this timeless scene into my memory.