Everybody knows it, at least - everybody has heard of it.......There is a lot of confusion about what is Arab cooking.
Actually, if the truth be told, there is a lot of confusion about what is "ARAB"! Strangely this image resembles "Lawrence of Arabia" - (T.E. Lawrence - "7 Pillars of Wisdom") who was fond of using the word Arab in a general sense, meaning practically anything that had to do with the Desert or sand (outside Blackpool beach)!
He was often thrown out of stride by the inhabitants asking him who he meant when he said "Arabs" - they asked frequently who they were - "This tribe they'd never heard of"!
Maybe this link will help you to figure out who should be what.......
I'm not here to even try to explain "Arab", I'm just going to try to explain a few things about the cookery of these strange mysterious peoples, and maybe some of the common "mis-conceptions":
Often thought of as alternatively sharp, dirty, disgusting, unhygienic, vegetarian, oversweet, under nourishing, exotic, the general Arabic vein seems to be a mixture of all these things and more, but there is no doubt - it is different, and if only for this reason should be attractive to the Western ideas, or at least those Westerners with open minds.
Just to get a few ideas in place, here are a couple of links to "educate" you, and me in the mysteries of 1001 days and nights, in Ali Baba ways and means (Ali Baba being something rather mildly insulting) and generally doing away with rumours whilst confirming certain "hospitality practices" of the Arab world.
http://www.araboo.com/dir/arabic-cooking - Here you can find, apart from beautiful Arabic ladies a wealth of recipes and hints on all things Arabic...and here:
http://www.al-bab.com/arab/food.htm you will be taken on a total tour of everything remotely considered to "Arabic".
On that subject, I feel it only reasonable to suggest certain countries, closely placed geographically to Arab countries, which use many similar preparations to the Arab world.
Turkey, Albania, and even Greece spring to mind, although the link between them is often unclear, possibly of religious nature - but they have famous preparations in the kitchen which resemble each other a great deal.
I suppose that the one word which must be mentioned when dealing with "Arab" foods, and often in conjunction with other similar nations is in fact a word with religious connotations:
.....Without "Halal" nothing would really exist in this mysterious world, so it is only reasonable to know what it is........http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halal
Not only used in relation to foodstuffs, but very, very often, and represents the basic laws given in the Arab world.
If you think this may be one way of avoiding your favourites like "Spam-similar" preparations - well - don't............They are present as well. Just mainly not made from PORK....!
This subject is best dealt with here, with a little study of the unfortunate pig in religion and dietary senses: It's very interesting to note that there are even "Religious or other restrictions regarding pork" in what one would otherwise call relatively "civilised" countries (disputed doubtlessly by the English) such as Scotland: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scottish_pork_taboo The generally accepted theoretically arranged "taboos" can be found here:
I have little or no choice in the matter, the subject is so immense that a series of articles would be necessary, and my interest is mainly in those dishes we are most likely to be confronted with in what we call our "Western World". For that reason, and to enable those of you who are interested in finding out about the mysteries from the other world, my researches will start in part 2 - "Arabian Nights in the West" which will be coming shortly - right here at the same address...don't miss it....
For the moment, and to allow the juices to accumulate in your mouths, here should be one of the real specialities, often offered as an honour to Western guests, and considered bad taste indeed considered as an insult to refuse, the eye of the sheep, but out of respect for your sensible Western stomachs, ...have a "Tanjine" from Marocco instead.........
iwmpop(mrlemarquis) - Vauvert, France - Février 2011
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