Let them eat Arabic food…and lots of it

Posted on August 16, 2010


Thursday, we made a trip to Salama Halal Meat to pick up some food  for my husband.  Specifically, Arabic food.  Generally, he isn’t a picky eater and we don’t eat exclusively Middle Eastern foods.  We have a recipe repetoire that includes food inspired by Italian, Middle Eastern, Chinese, Indian, and American.  But during Ramadan, my husband wants, no, needs to have  haloumi cheese, beef cold cuts, olives, yogurt, lebni and his favorite cooked meals like  Bamia, and Mulukhia, a leafy, summer vegetable with edible leaves, all the foods that conjure happy memories of family meals of Ramadan past.  Ramadan is a time when meals are well thought out, then truly savored for taste and the feeling of nourishment and fullness that follows the meal.   Foods are are picked out of nostalgia and equally as important,  favoring foods that suit breaking a fast.   Everything is about freshness and lightness.  Even though I don’t fast, I tune into my husband’s experience and become more selective about what we eat, and I appreciate our meals more.

There’s no room for a cart in Salama, and within mere moments, our basket is overflowing.  We went in planning to make kofta for Iftar, but after shopping, we  became excited to sample a selection of  fresh bread,  cold cuts, cheeses and salad instead.  It was early evening when we arrived, and the store was bustling.  Most of the shoppers were men, which is the norm at Ramadan.  While women are the main preparers of the meals,  most men share in the responsibility by shopping and helping with chopping, serving, and cleaning up.  Salama is small, but carries a full range of food from the Middle East and South East Asia.  You’ll find seeds from Egypt, Lebni from California,  Hot Sauce from Syria, Cherry Juice from Turkey, frozen okra from Montana.  I love to look at all the cool and different packaging.  Sometimes the selection is too good.  In addition to our normal purchases, we also want to try all the special things brought in just for Ramadan.  Translation:  our grocery bill usually doubles during Ramadan.  But it’s worth every (extra) penny.

When we got home, I marveled at how pretty all the packages,  how excited I was to eat and so I forgot the stress of the extra expense.  Especially when I see my son and husband so excited to dig into their food.  Our son loves to eat these types of meals.  During Ramadan, he experiences his Palestinian roots through the meals we choose to plan and savour.

Dinner Time!