I've got at least five other middle eastern dishes that I've cooked over the last two months of which I'd love to share with you. My idealistic nature believes I will do such, but my slowly-growing-but-still-infantile realism is forcing me to give the disclaimer that they may not all appear.
However, in reworking the system for keeping up-to-date on this blog, my brilliant husband won me an Olympus digital voice recorder on ebay in order for me to record my thoughts and stories as they come to me or while I'm cooking. This is the perfect choice, for when the time comes that I can actually hop online to post, it's the end of the day and I'm looking for my pillow instead of the publish button!
I am currently reading and researching African cuisine as we move westward from the Mideast. To connect the cuisines, I believe I will start with Eastern African countries. Inititially (and ignorantly), I hoped to tackle this in a lumped group of Eritrea, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Malawi, and Zambia. What was I thinking???
I seem to suffer from this foggy notion of Africa as an enormous country instead of the enormous, incredibly rich, diverse continent that it is. Ethiopia has preserved its own cuisine, largely due to its naturally isolating geography; Kenya alone has over 40 tribes, resulting in unique cuisines among each. I've realized that I must tackle Africa country by country, highlighting each one's everyday and festive foods.
But even in going country by country, I must be careful to not be bound by geographical lines. A good friend of ours, who spent his teen years living in Kenya, noted that the people of Africa define themselves by tribes, and not by the country divisions that Europeans have created. In A Continent for the Taking: The Tragedy and Hope of Africa by Howard W. French, he says, "The continent is simply too large and too complex to be grasped easily, and only rarely, in fact, have we ever tried. Instead we categorize and over simplify, willy nilly, ingnoring that for the continents' inhabitants, the very notion of Africanness is an utterly recent extraction born of Western subjugation, of racism and of exploitation."
In order to understand the cuisine, I must understand the people. I read a fictional book while cooking Middle Eastern, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, but I am now reading the above mentioned non-fiction African memoir to expand my incredibly, and shamefully, limited knowledge of Africa. I've also put a number of holds on books from the library in hopes that I may better understand the beauty, the traditions, and the pain of this great land.
Certainly, I hope to highlight amazing food from this continent, but more so I pray that God will create in me a love for this land and its people and give me insight into easing her pain and seeing her beauty.