Entering the Syrian capital on the Damascus Road (Photo: Patrick Henningsen)
Patrick Henningsen, of 21st Century Wire, writes from Damascus:
DAMASCUS – The first thing you notice while driving over Mount Lebanon is how close Beirut and Damascus are, and yet their respective situations could not be further apart.
Last month, the war on Syria entered its sixth year. However, thirty years ago, Lebanon was where Syria finds itself today – embroiled in a painful and protracted not-so-civil ‘civil war,’ with numerous regional and global powers angling for influence, each pressing for their own agenda.
There’s a noticeable difference once you pass from Lebanon into Syria – the highway is paved and smooth, concrete bollards are neatly arranged, and there are no manhole ditches to avoid in the middle of the road. Images of Bashar and his father Hafiz are prominently displayed along the Damascus Road.
As one would expect in a country at war, checkpoints are numerous…
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If someone sits with me
And we talk about the Beloved
If I cannot give his heart comfort,
If I cannot make him feel better
About himself and this world,
Quickly run to the mosque and pray—
For you have just committed
The only sin I know.
by Hafiz in ” I heard God laughing”
Dedicated to the readers of this blog, your comments tell me where your heart is ………so Keep the dialogue going. Who knows whose heart you may touch while passing through here.
Update: recipe added!!
Recently, work has been intense, crazy-good-intense, plus I have been cooking for friends: lingering, laughing, food-laden, wine-tinted dinners where people meet old friends and make new ones. All of which means I’m catching up on the blogosphere this weekend.
The good thing about cooking for a bunch of friendly guinea pigs friends is that I can foist “out there” dishes on them. And unlike a family Christmas lunch, I run less risk of offending the mother-in-law-of-cousin-in-law.
Dishes like a macaroni pie from the novel The Leopard (Il Gattopardo), by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa.
Like the Triumph of Gluttony, the idea of the pie has haunted my imagination since I read the book years ago:
“When three lackeys in green, gold and powder entered, each holding a great silver dish containing a towering macaroni pie, only four of the twenty at table avoided showing pleased surprise.
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If you happen to travel by car from Sanaa to Taiz, Ibb will be the highlight of your trip. Once you survive the motion sickness from roads of Somarah ســــ’مارة, and Nakeel Thee-Yaslih نقيل ذي يسلح Mountains the scenery starts to open up into wide lush, green valleys. All organized into combed terrains .This is the green belt of Yemen, the place that historically used to feed people of the Arabian Peninsula.
Ibb has the second most amount of rain per year after Salalah, Oman. Which makes it number one in Yemen. Most people of Ibb work on agriculture. Crops like Corn, vegetables, and fruits grow fantastically here. People say wonders about the rich soil of Ibb, and it’s cool, sunny weather. Each time I visit Ibb, I get out with a different understanding of it as a place. Ibb is famous for its green valleys, and lush mountains, but since the seventies, it became a big…
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While I don’t formally celebrate Easter (unless you count my obscene love for Cadbury Creme Eggs as a celebration…which I do), I love nothing more than the combination of great art and symbolism.
Pysanky are a Ukrainian tradition; eggs elaborately decorated using batik (dye resistant designs “written” in wax).
Many superstitions were attached to pysanky. Pysanky were thought to protect households from evil spirits, catastrophe, lightning and fires. Pysanky with spiral motifs were the most powerful, as the demons and other unholy creatures would be trapped within the spirals forever. A blessed pysanky could be used to find demons hidden in the dark corners of your house.
Pysanky held powerful magic, and had to be disposed of properly, lest a witch get a hold of one. She could use…
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Have you ever shared a recipe with your mom? How did that go? My mom taught me everything I know when it comes to Yemeni cooking .She cooks with her instinct. She knows the ingredients and mixtures by heart, so everything she cooked was with no measuring! This was perfectly fine for her with Yemeni cooking because she knows it so well.
I asked her to give me the Sugar Konafa recipe but it was a complete puzzle for me as I try as much as I can to go with measurements to get the same result every time.I had to repeat it over and over until (I think , I got a good grasp on how to do it).
Sugar Konafa is different than the Middle Eastern Konafa that is well known in Lebanon and Egypt and most of Arab countries. It is not stuffed with cheese or cream…
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