It was lucky I rented my little Sicilian casetta during orange blossom season. I had included a recipe for the jam in the book I am working on right now and was wondering how I was going to test it. Well, I didn’t have to wonder too long as I walked with Mary through her citrus grove and found the trees bursting with blossom. All I had to do was decide which of the blossom were the right ones for the jam — some were small and others large and fleshy. Thinking back to the orange blossom jam of the Lebanese sweet-makers, I decided to go for the fleshier kind and the next day, Amy and I went down early in the morning to pick 1 kilogram of blossom, which was the quantity I needed for the recipe. We quickly realised that if we were to pick so much, we would be spending the rest of our week making the jam. Not only would it have taken forever to pick the blossom — the flowers are surprisingly light — but we would have had to spend hours picking the petals off them. So, I decided to cut down the recipe to a quarter of the quantities and after a good half hour at least, we had picked what we needed.
Only one day since my return from Sicily and I am already missing it. I think I will retire there, preferably on a property like Mary‘s, in the middle of fabulous countryside with gorgeous views wherever you look and organic fruit and vegetables to pick whenever you want. I had invited Amy to stay with me in the casetta I had rented and she cooked the most delicious meals with our freshly picked produce while I tinkered on my computer, mostly working. But it was Mary who cooked our last dinner (barbecued artichokes). We had planned to have it outside but it was a little chilly, so, we barbecued in Mary’s fireplace. But first we had to pick the artichokes and not longer than an hour before we needed to cook them according to Mary. Read more >
Yesterday, my new best friend (I love making new best friends), Susan Hack, wrote up a post about our koshari meal at Abu Tareq in Cairo and other street foods I like and she rightly said that my favourite, together with koshari, is fiteer, so, I thought I would post about an amazingly good fiteer I had recently (sadly not with Susan) in Sayida Zeynab. I had seen and tasted almost eveything I wanted to in the two days I was in Cairo except for fiteer, so, I asked where was a good fatatri (fiteer maker) and was sent to one that did not look promising, dark and dingy and without any character but it was the only one and I decided to give it a try. And boy am I glad I did. Their fiteer was just perfect and even though I was going to lunch an hour later, I couldn’t resist eating far more than just the taste I had promised myself. I nearly finished the simple fiteer topped with eshta (Arabic clotted cream which in Cairo is made with buffalo milk) and honey in the top picture and had far too much of the fiteer mushaltat (several fiteers, one inside the other) in the picture below. Totally scrumptious.
Every now and then I find myself in a rather disgusting food market where I find beauty amongst the horror. A few years ago, it was in Karachi where I couldn’t believe the number of flies swarming inside a tiny fish stall but they looked beautiful against the stone counter and the fish. And again the other day, there was beauty amidst the filth at an offal stall in Sayida Zeynab in Cairo, where I noticed a piece of honeycomb tripe hanging over a red tub with flies feeding on it. Naturally, there was nothing appetising about the scene but the pattern of the pale tripe with the black flies dotted over it was just as beautiful as it was repulsive, so, I took a picture, which I cropped further to add to my edible abstractions series!