Food, food culture, food as culture and the cultures that grow our food

A F.A.S.T. food market

May 27, 2008

Gifted olive oil and za'atar from the village of Ein Hud in Israel, Debra Solomon for
Gifted organic olive oil and za’atar from Ein Hud, an unrecognised village in Israel

Sustainability issues aren’t only about green, sometimes they’re even more fundamental than that. Food and food systems are an integral part of that story because food and agricultural policy is commonly used for strategic purposes. Malkit Shoshan is an Israeli architect and the founder/director of F.A.S.T. (Foundation of A Seamless Territory) dedicated to exposing the global abuses of ideological planning, as found in Israel’s unrecognised villages like Ein Hud and in offering alternative solutions.

In June 2004 F.A.S.T. held an international architecture competition for a masterplan for the village of Ein Hud and will be opening it’s cultural centre with festivities this September 2008. Shoshan asked me if I would investigate the possibility of initiating a farmers’ market in Ein Hud and to see about developing some artisanal products to sell in it. The market would ostensibly sell local agricultural products like olive oil, herbs, medicinal herbs, honey and dates, and would give a welcome boost to the local economy. To entice me Malkit gave me a sample of Ein Hud’s raw product line, za’atar (the quintessential Arab condiment mixture of marjoram, sumac, sesame seeds, and salt), fruity olive oil and melouchiya (a dried herb concoction that I’m still figuring out how to use).

Olive oil and za'atar from the village of Ein Hud in Israel, Debra Solomon for
Vernacular packaging of local products from Ein Hud

From F.A.S.T. “The story of Ein Hud represents the history of the State of Israel, as an embodiment of two parallel societies, two parallel planning systems, one building, the other destroying. Ein Hod – Ein Hud is the story of two villages, each representing a different reality and completely opposite living conditions. The story of Ein Hud, south of Haifa, is a typical example of the complex reality of ideological planning in Israel and how such planning contributes to the Israeli-Palestinian tragedy.”

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On acting-out at dinner

May 20, 2008

De Zonnewende dines chez Culiblog, Debra Solomon
All together now.

Purple tablecloth, purple flowering chives and irises. Entirely too much purple at the dining table and an amuse comprised of an overly precious presentation of tofu, inspired my friends to spontaneously bust out a tongue-in-cheeky, anthroposophical pre-dinner recitation of grace. Holding hands.

Blessings on the blossom, blessings on the fruit, blessings on the leaves and stems, blessings on the root.

We peppered the rest of dinner playing ‘Intentional Community’ in which an exposure to hippy upbringing and culture provided compost for our niche humor. The fact that these particular friends actually do live in a (hippyish) collective made it all the more funny.
Pretending to have family dinner, Debra Solomon for
Intentionally crap fake family photography, Ma and Pa had only just met hours before.

A month before that and with another group of friends, we suddenly found ourselves at a Sunday dinner playing ‘Ageing Urban Family’ taking on ill-fitting traditional roles. Downward-facing dogme.

Family dinner photo - replaced by request,
Interior for family dinner, players requesting anonymity

Interesting phenomena but despite the amplifications, it is sort of sweet & healthy that we’re spending family moments sharing home-cooked meals together.
Pretending to have family dinner, Debra Solomon for
Sister, put down the cellphone.

The anthroposophical blessing referred to above was actually this one, recited by the Composer, in the role of Hippy from the Zonnewende Collective. In Dutch and below an English translation:

Aarde droeg het in haar schoot
Zonlicht bracht het rijp en groot
Zon en aarde die ons dit schenken
wij wilen dankbaar aan u denken

Ook de mensen niet vergeten
die bereiden ons het eten.

Loosely translated and with poetic license:

Earth who gives to us this food
Sun who makes it ripe and good
Dear Earth …. Dear Sun
By you we live
Our loving thanks to you we give…..

Also those for us who did prepare
We’re thankful for this Sun and Earthly fare.

family dinner photo - replaced by request,

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May 12, 2008

Culiblog author collects ramps in the Amsterdamse Bos,
Culiblog author caught plucking and nibbling in an abundant field of ramps in Amsterdam

I’m a bad to the bone, flower plucking, fruit stealing, mushroom picking, herb snatcher that simply cannot walk by food growing in the public space without tucking in and filling my basket. And I wish that more people were like me and that more public space was used to grow food. It changes the way you feel about a place when you can also find your food there.

Inspired by Saturday’s opening on the ramble, amble, saunter and stroll down at Marres in Maastricht, JB and I decided to test the notion on bike and headed out into the nearby nature with no particular plan in mind. Under the verdant canopy of the Amsterdamse Bos we encountered enormous patches of ramps, also known as wood leek, wild garlic, ail des bois and ail sauvage. The ramps were in bloom and I swear If I were a dog I would have rolled over on my back and done that doggy thing that dogs do in the grass.

Culiblog author caught foraging and eating ramps in the Amsterdamse Bos,
The leaves were tender and garlicky all right, and the flowers were dripping with nectar (!) a combination of green onion and fragrant honey aroma. I love it when the ramp leaves and flowers have different flavours. It was a demure forage-fest, but I’m going back for more today. Tomorrow when the composer comes home, I thought it would be fun to welcome him by dining on a picnic of locally stolen food.

Partner in crime, JB nibbles a ramp on a spongiform log,
Partner in crime, JB nibbles a ramp while perched on a spongiform log

Culiblog author caught foraging and eating ramps in the Amsterdamse Bos,

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