Jerusalem: A cookbook and Mahmoud Darwish
I’m joining in to the Jerusalem fever, rather late, more like 8 years late but I’m hoping that it will be worth it. This cookbook has made it rounds much like how Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French cooking did back in 1961. I’ve decided that I’m going to be blogging through, while reading. I think it makes me remember things more, as well as documenting things more carefully and research things outside of the book while reading it.
This book is written by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, chefs who both grew up on opposite sides of the divided city. Ottolenghi from the Jewish West and Tamimi from the Arab east (Palestine). Both of them met in London as adults and chefs.
Last year I read the wonderful prose-poetry book Memory of Forgetfulness by Mahmoud Darwish which dealt with the Lebanese civil war and the 1982, Israeli invasion of Lebanon. If you do not know about the conflict, you can watch this link, I have found it rather useful. I remember reading it and thinking how much coffee Mr. Darwish liked, since the first fifty pages were rather devoted to it.
“No coffee is like another. Every house has its coffee, and every hand too, because no soul is like another” -A Memory of Forgetfulness ,
Coffee was used as a symbolism of individuality and how important it is that everyone remembers where they belong to and who they are, even with the dehumanisation that war brings along with itself. Though, I have not yet read the cookbook this reminded me of Dawarish and the impact an individual can go through during the times of war, and the role of food and and the changes it goes through socially and historically.
The name of the book, Memory of Forgetfulness also is an indicator of preserving memory of a population that is being erased (that is Palestine) and how the author thinks that even though Palestine might forget its history it will remember it through Language. I’m hoping through this book I can get some insights on how perhaps this preserved through food.
Through some interviews I’ve read, the cookbook was a chance for the chefs to re-imagine their childhood about Jerusalem’s food markets and street food. Food like Hummus is something that is divided between the ownership of the jews or the arabs.
“The difficulty is where to start. In the Middle East, there’s a small piece of land with two nations fighting over it. Everything is important, including the food. As a result, there’s always scramble over ownership: Who invented hummus? Who invented falafel? Who makes it better? Who owns it? Those are really crucial questions when the reality is very shaky and people are really scrambling for identity.” -WNNYC, 2015