Today is a momentous day in Egypt. A year to the day since Morsi was elected, and hundreds of thousands are back in Tahrir Square to demonstrate against what many see as his failed presidency and to ask him to leave. Irhal (leave) they are shouting or mish 3ayzinaq (we don’t need you)! Well, I wish I could have been in Cairo now despite the heat instead of a few weeks ago. Would be quite fascinating. Still, it was pretty wonderful then, especially the evening we spent watching Magda cook a few dishes, including mumbar (stuffed ox intestines) and mehshi waraq 3enab (stuffed vine leaves) before feasting on them. We have both dishes in Lebanon but the Egyptian versions are quite different. Read more >
Anissa: It has been quite some time since the great Charles Perry wrote a guest post and I was delighted when he suggested mastic, one of my favourite ingredients, except that he is writing about it in the context of savoury cooking which is fascinating.
Charles: With its heady resinous aroma, mastic seems a natural flavoring for sweets. The Greeks and Turks drink mastic syrup with coffee; they put it in ice cream and Turkish delight. The Moroccans can’t seem to grind almonds without throwing in a little mastic.
And yet medieval Arab cooks scarcely ever flavor sweets with mastic – it was more likely to contribute its aroma to meat dishes. The greatest mastic fan on record is Muhammad b. al-Hasan al-Baghdadi, because mastic appears in more than half of the 96 red meat recipes in his 1226 book Kitab al-Tabikh.