A Meal With What You Have

Posted on June 17, 2012


I believe there is an art to creating a satisfying meal out of what you have in the larder.   The other day, I was fortunate enough to be at my friend and culinary muse, Balkees’s home at lunch time, when she was doing just that.

So what is in Balkees’s kitchen on an early summer day? Eggs. Greens.  Lots of pale green zucchinis, which she sliced into rounds and browned in olive oil (produced from the family olive trees).  Home-made tomato sauce she prepared with the season’s first fresh tomatoes.  Fresh leben (yoghurt) made of goat and sheep milk delivered to her door by a local milkman.  Home-cured olives and pickles from the pantry.

There is a name in Arabic for this kind of meal, Balkees explained to me.  Hawader – drawing from the Arabic word for “what is there”.  For this hawader, she prepared a pile of omelets thick with chopped parsley, mint, onion, garlic, dried coriander and sweet marjoram.  Some of the fried zucchini was put on a plate and mashed with leben and garlic.  A salad of thinly chopped lettuce, onion and chopped tomato and heated pita bread rounded out the meal.

The extra ingredient, of course, that permeates the entire meal, is the loving care she invests in every meal – festive or hawader – for her family to enjoy.  How fortunate I am to be included among them.

PS – If you haven’t already seen it, please have a look at the review of my book, Breaking Bread in Galilee recently published in the Jewish Forward.