Feast with the Bedouins !!!

Hey!  Hope you guys have been keeping up with all the posts we’ve been feeding you over the week.  Last time I told you guys about how the market is the best place to explore the food habits of any particular culture, and how it takes you into the homes of the people of a place and shows you what’s really cooking.  However, this time we are headed to the desert for a rustic feast.

As a part of my trip to Israel  I ended up in the desert – ‘The Negev’ to be precise (I know I talk a lot about the place, but I love the country and can’t help myself). Not that I didn’t want to. I always wanted to find myself in the desert at least once; not in a ‘survival fighting for your life’ kind of a way; but to experience its vast beauty and expanse. To be inspired and taken by its sheer size. 

We were going to visit the Bedouin Village Retreat in the Negev to experience the Bedouin way of life and spend a night living under the desert sky as the Bedouins would.  Obviously not exactly like the way they live.  Life in the desert is harsh and our stay was deeply cushioned by their great hospitality.

On arrival at the village, Bedouin men dressed in jellabiyas, long-sleeved gowns similar to the Arabian thawb, and a white head-cover, greeted us.  We were offered orange juice, and after freshening up we went on a ride across the desert on camel back.  There was also an alternative mode of transport, but lets just say I preferred the advantage of height that the camel provided to that of the donkey.

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On returning from our camel ride we were to partake in a Bedouin coffee drinking ceremony.  We were invited into a Bedouin tent and made to sit on beautifully hand woven carpets.  After settling down we were offered some tea, spiced with desert herbs.  While we sipped on the tea, the Bedouin host performed the ancient coffee ceremony.  He started off by drumming a traditional rhythmic pattern using a large mortar & pestle, while his associate roasted the coffee beans on a fire.  Once roasted, the host then ground the coffee beans and each one got a glass of freshly ground coffee.  

Displaying z2.JPGThe host then explained as to why the coffee ceremony is so important in Bedouin culture.  Serving coffee, known as “gahwa”, is a treasured aspect of Bedouin life that creates and reinforces harmony, within their own society as well as for outside diplomacy.

After coffee it was time for dinner and boy were we hungry.  We shifted to a larger tent, where we were made to sit on cushions set up on the floor, around low circular tables.  And then came the food – Bedouin style.  Traditionally seasoned chicken with herb-flavored rice, fresh baked Bedouin Pita bread with Za’atar – a kind of herb, Arabic vegetable salad, thick tahini salad, and of course loads of hummus; all served in a large tray they call a ‘Sania’.Displaying z4.png

Quite frankly that was one of the best meals I had during my stay in Israel.  Tender, succulent chicken and the best tasting pita and hummus.  We ended the meal with peaches from the region.  The Sweetest peaches in the world!!!  Better than any desert.  We even took a few to eat while sleeping in our lavishly spread out Bedouin tents.  The food gave us a great insight into the lives of the Bedouins.  The Bedouins are desert people and live a nomadic life.  Their lives are filled with hard ship and through their hospitality and food they show how they take pleasure in the simple things in life.

Until next time, travel and eat your way around the world.

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