The Tourism Between Syria and Italy - Italia e Siria sono due Paesi Mediterranei, molto simili fra loro. Con questo blog vogliamo far incontrare le ايطاليا وسوريا هما بلدان من البحرالأبيض المتوسط، و مشابهان لبعضهما البعض. ومن خلال هذه المدونة نريد أن يتلاقى الشعبين لمعرف الثقافة، والأماكن والتقاليد في كلا البلدين - Italy and Syria are two Mediterranean countries, and they are very similar . With this blog we want to make a meeting for the people from these countries, to make them know the culture, the places and the traditions of both countries.
The Tourism Between Syria and Italy
- Italia e Siria sono due Paesi Mediterranei, molto simili fra loro. Con questo blog vogliamo far incontrare le
ايطاليا وسوريا هما بلدان من البحرالأبيض المتوسط، و مشابهان لبعضهما البعض. ومن خلال هذه المدونة نريد أن يتلاقى الشعبين لمعرف الثقافة، والأماكن والتقاليد في كلا البلدين
- Italy and Syria are two Mediterranean countries, and they are very similar . With this blog we want to make a meeting for the people from these countries, to make them know the culture, the places and the traditions of both countries.
Thursday, 31 May 2012
Syrian Food and Culture
By Sarina Roffé
Syrian food is rich in vegetables, grains, fruit, nuts, beans and aromatic spices. The same
ingredients are used in different ways in different dishes and blended into an assortment
of dishes. Lemons, onion and garlic, as well as mint and parsley are used in vast
quantities. Syrian bread (known as pita) is served at most meals and is used to dip into
pastes and salads.
In Syrian foods, presentation is everything. Individual hor d’oeurves are stuffed with
vegetables, and vegetables are stuffed with meats. Even the most basic dishes are
garnished. A typical Syrian meal begins with mezze, a spread of hor d’oeurves, salads
and appetizers, as well as an assortment of nuts and pickles. Main meals include meat,
chicken or fish, with a vegetable, salad and rice dish. A typical Syrian meal is followed
by tea of coffee, platters of fruit and home made pastries filled with nuts and sweetened
with sugar syrup.
Food is very much a part of Syrian Jewish culture and is heavily influenced by the
topography and environment in the Middle East. The preparation of certain foods at
certain times of the year or special meals cooked in preparation for the Sabbath were a
woman’s contribution to conveying Sephardic Jewish culture.
Syrian foods are heavily dependent on fresh vegetables and fruits; thus Syrian Jews are
particularly choosy about their purchases. Many fresh fruit and vegetable grocers have
gone out of business when their fare was not of the caliber expected.
The Sabbath meal was the most important and there are a variety of foods typically
served. Hor d’ouerves typically include kibbe or lahamajene. Kibbe consists of a shell is
made from bulghur wheat and flour, shaped into a hollow torpedo shape and then filled
with meat, vegetables or fish. Once prepared, the kibbe is fried and served with lemon
that is dripped onto the meat once it is bitten. Kibbe is probably the most difficult Syrian
food when prepared by hand and there are few women in the current generation that can
duplicate the efforts of their female ancestors. Today the women talented enough to
prepare, rather than purchase, kibbe use the popular Kitchenaid mixer and attachment.
Lahamajene are round meat patties, similar to small pizzas, but covered with a meat
mixture that receives its special flavor from the tamarind paste, or temerhindy. The
temerhindy can be purchased in Middle Eastern food stores or prepared at home from
dried tamarind plants.
Another common hor d’oeurve is sambusak, made from a semolina dough and filled with
a cheese or meat mixture. The preparation of sambusak is often a measure of how good a
cook a woman is. It is said that a Syrian woman, who masters sambusak, Syrian pastries
and other difficult to prepare foods, is “chartre.”
Soups were commonly prepared and Syrian specialties are chicken shulbah (tomato rice)
and lentil noodle soup. Salads are a staple of Middle Eastern life. Syrian Jews used salads
during Sabbath and holiday lunch meals for mezze, the midday Sabbath meal, along with
kibbe or lahamajene and home made pickles made from turnips, cauliflower and green
peppers. Before mezze, the entire morning is spent setting the table and preparing an array
of salads and cold or warm pick-up foods. There were potatoes, beans, avocado and
lettuce salads. These were always several kinds of olives. The result was a magnificent
table with all kinds of interesting foods and something for even the most choosy eaters.
Only among traditional Syrian families will you find such a variety of salads. Most
people know of Middle Eastern salads like babaghanouj (made from eggplant), humus
(chick peas) and tehini. These salads are well known and can be bought at any vegetable
stand or Middle Eastern grocer. Other standards include beet salad, and Israeli salad.
There is basergan, a salad made with bulghur wheat seasoned with tomato paste, onions
and tamarind paste. Syrian style potato salad is seasoned with lemon and imported
allspice, oil and salt. Avocado salad is seasoned with imported cumin, garlic, oil, salt and
lemon. There are also a variety of bean salads. These salads represent the real cuisine and
culture of Syrian Jews.
In the meat arena, there are several special foods that are indicative of Syrian Jews.
Chicken and spaghetti, seasoned with allspice and cinnamon and baked in the oven until
the pasta is hard and crispy, is one such meal, and often served for large families.
Chicken and potatoes are another favorite. The chicken is seasoned with paprika, pepper
and salt. The potatoes are cut small, deep-fried, and then cooked in the chicken drippings.
Sachicha is probably one of the more difficult Sephardic recipes to make. It requires
special equipment, skill and a certain touch. Sachicha is the Syrian version of sausage,
made from beef or lamb and spiced to taste. The process involved mixing the meat, with
spices and keeping the meat very cold for easier stuffing. Kosher skins were loaded onto
the custom made sausage attachment used with the Kitchenaid Mixer (can be bought in
Middle Eastern grocery stores in Brooklyn). In the old days, after the sausage was
stuffed, the links were hung outside on the clothesline to cure and then frozen until they
were ready to be cooked.
Since Friday night meals are so heavy, dairy dishes are generally served on Thursday
nights and on Saturday evenings, after the Sabbath ends. While Popeye advertised the
advantages of spinach, it is something Syrian Jews have known for centuries. Spinach eb
gibin, or spinach with cheese, a mixture of spinach, eggs, Muenster cheese and onions, is
a preferred dish and is served with plain yogurt or yogurt mixed with cucumbers and
seasoned with mint and garlic.
Another difficult to master craft is that of making cheese, either string cheese or white
cheese. Kosher liquid vegetable rennet is difficult to find, but is needed for white cheese.
The art of making string cheese comes from melting the working cheese to just the right
texture and pulling and twisting into shape. Then the cheese must be untwisted and
unstrung. The key to serving the cheese is to serve it bulked up. People pick at it and eat
it with their fingers.
Keskasoon gets its protein from the chickpeas that melt in your mouth after being cooked
with this small round pasta. Similar to Moroccan couscous, keskasoon is unique in its
preparation and due to the use of a small round pasta rather than a grain. This is a great
dairy meal for Thursday evenings. Another dairy meal was emgebra, rice with lentils,
seasoned with onions. Both are served with plain yogurt or yogurt salad.
In the sweet category, foods such as greybeh, baklava, knafe, mahmoul and greeybej, was
a must. Baklava is made with phyllo dough and stuffed with nuts, baked in the oven and
sweetened with a sugar liquid. Greybeh is a dry pastry made from oil and flour and
seasoned with cinnamon.
K’nafe is used on special occasions, such as a brit milah or an engagement party. K’nafe
is filled with ricotta cheese topped with a special shredded form of phyllo dough.
Mahmoul and greybeej are both pastries filled with nuts and made from semolina dough.
A woman’s ability to prepare Syrian specialty foods was often a measure of her
competency as a homemaker. Further, her ability to properly set a table and make the
food look pretty are a reflection of her ability as a hostess.
Today, many of the items our grandmother’s worked so hard to make by hand can be
bought in stores, but none hold the same meaning as those made by hand at home, where
aromas can permeate the house with memories.