Bedouin Hospitality

Posted on August 22, 2009

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Emna's fresh sheepsmilk yoghurt

Emna's fresh sheepsmilk yoghurt

Thank goodness some relief has come from the monotony of these long, hot summer days.  Ramadan begins today and a few days ago I paid a pre-holiday visit to my good friends Maryam and her sister Emna, in the neighboring Bedouin village of Basmat Tabun.  I haven’t seen them for some time – they used to walk across the nature reserve for exercise, but lately, they tell me, it’s been so hot and they are too busy – getting the children ready for the school year and preparing for the holiday.  Also, summer is wedding season and there had been several weddings in the family, each one involving days on end of celebration.  Emna brought out to show me the dresses she bought in Nazareth for the weddings – long elegant tunics worn over matching pants, decorated with beads and matched with contrasting head scarves.

The conversation inevitably turned to cooking, and the sisters told me that one of their favorite foods for breaking the daily Ramadan fast is a salad of finely chopped tomato and cucumber, mixed with the  fresh sheeps-milk yoghurt that Emna makes (she has a herd that she keeps, with the help of her teenage son, in a plot of land near the house), and sprinkled with garlic powder.  Both Emna and Maryam have daughters who are finishing high school, and we talked about their plans – they want to do some kind of national service – through the one-year program for post-high-schoolers,  and get their driver’s licenses.  When I left, Emna insisted on giving me a bucket of fresh yoghurt, and Maryam, a case of plum tomatoes her husband had just gleaned (he’s a truck driver who works in agriculture).  Yesterday Ron and I dunked them in boiling water, peeled, chopped, cooked and pureed them and made this lovely tomato sauce, destined for the freezer.  

Fruit of our labor

Fruit of our labor

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