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PCUSA NEWS <PCUSA.NEWS@ecunet.org>
3 Feb 2003 15:14:59 -0500
Note #7584 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:
If you make Tabbouleh, you'll need 'lots and lots' of parsley
by Alexa Smith
EAST JERUSALEM - From an alcove in a house in the Christian Quarter of the
Old City comes a soft noise: Chunk, chunk, chunk, chunk, chunk, chunk, chunk.
Shareen Saeed is cutting parsley. Lots and lots of parsley. For Tabbouleh.
"Parsley is good for the health," she says, turning her U-shaped blade this
way and that, dicing the parsley so, then so, until it is chopped fine. "It
takes so, so much," she apologizes. "Say, four bunches of parsley. And
sometimes I put in mint."
In a nearby alley, Saeed's 5-year-old daughter, Jessica, and 3-year-old son,
Bassam, are playing noisily with neighbor children. They play in the shadows
of stone ramparts built by the Ottoman sultan Suliman the Magnificant in the
Saeed's third child, Nicole, who is 10 months old, is in the next room, being
fussy. She's with her great-grandmother, who is singing and rocking her on
the bed, trying to put her to sleep.
Like most people in the Old City, the Saeeds live in a multi-family
dwelling. The great-grandmother lives downstairs, the Saeeds' have three
rooms, and other family members have rooms of their own. Four generations of
Saeeds have lived in this house.
In the Christian corner of the Old City, the northwest, nothing is far from
the Holy Sepulchre, Christianity's central shrine. Tradition holds that it
marks the site where Jesus was buried and was rose from the dead. It's a
short walk from the Saeeds' house.
It's also a short stroll to the marketplace where Saeed buys from the
fallahat, women who come into town and squat on the street selling home-grown
produce, or from other vendors hawking fruits and vegetables piled in
hand-drawn carts and wagons.
When Saeed says she uses "so, so much" parsley, she means what she says.
Bunches here are probably twice as big as those you'd buy in a market in the
She grinds away with her knife, explaining: "Everything must be very, very
little. You do it just like this, back and forth. The smaller is the best."
Tabbouleh originated in Lebanon, but was quickly appropriated by the
Palestinians. In Nazareth, it consists mostly of bulgar wheat and parsley,
with olive oil and lemon juice, a bit of salt, and mint. In Jerusalem, she
says, many prefer Tabbouleh with tomato and cucumber (sliced "very, very
little," of course).
Warning that she really cooks with her eyes, Saeed discloses her recipe.
4 bunches parsley
1 cup bulgar wheat
2 lemons, juiced
3 medium tomatoes
= tbs. Salt
= cup olive oil
Trim and wash parsley, chop it fine by hand and put in a large bowl. Wash and
strain the bulgar wheat, squeezing out the water. Add a half-cup of lemon
and stir. Mix together the wheat and parsley; add finely chopped tomato and
remaining lemon juice. Add olive oil. Salt to taste.
Fresh mint may be ground and added to the mixture, or ground dried mint may
be used. Cucumber is often added to taste.
The recipe serves six.
"It is very good, this one," Saeed says, adding that leftovers can be frozen.
"It must be green. Green. Green. Green," she says. "And it must be sour. How
do you say in English, 'a little bit' sour?"
She adds a word of caution: "You can't do any of this with a food processor.
It won't be good. I would (use a processor), if I could, but this needs to be
done by hand."
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