www.banksy.co.uk - adaptation by shadow

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Food for free!

lufeta, ﻟﻔﻴﺘﺔ, hwera, ﺃﺣﻮﯿﺮﺓ, halawlaw, ﺣﻠﻮﻟﻮ, khubeza, ﺧﺒﯿﺰﺓ

As I am typing in the cold house a ploughman and mule toil under the olives. The ploughman guides the shear through the thin soil of the narrow terrace, weaving between the twisting trunks, slicing the sward of pink and yellow flowers, folding the herbs into to the furrows, exposing the pale dry earth.

The terraces built on the valley sides of Judean Hills were first constructed as long as eight thousand years ago at the drawn of agriculture. Ploughing is a long established in dry land farming. In theory the exposed tilth caps the soil reducing the rate of loss of soil moisture. Not to plough would result in a faster rate of soil moisture loss through the transpiration of herbs. It is also feared that the herbs when dead and dry provide habitat for scorpions, snakes, and spiders, and could constitute a fire risk.

Minimum tillage, (not ploughing) conserves soil structure essential for permeability to water and gasses. The plant roots bind the soil together resisting the water erosion (drop impact and runoff) and wind erosion. Soil erosion carries the organic particles and fine silts down to the Dead Sea were no one can use them, impoverishing soils and contributing to desertification. In the Judean Hills soil erosion of 50tonnes/hectare/year is the recorded average (wadis (flood plains) are far more erosive environments). Failing rains, over grazing and ploughing result in soil erosion threatening the future of agriculture regionally. Combining minimum tillage with soil water conservation techniques such as drip point irrigation, mulching and shading by trees could not only conserve soil moisture and fertility but even improve them whilst providing a variety of foods for the table.

Problem becomes a solution
Waste becomes resource
The weed becomes food

All that is necessary is a shift of perception

Seeing these delicious herbs turned into the earth I’m thinking how beautiful are their flowers, what diverse life they support through the brief spring season, how they will shade the soil from the burning summer sun, but most of all I’m thinking how much I want to eat them.

I first became aware we could eat the weeds when the neighbours asked to collect the hwera growing under our olives as they had ploughed under their trees. I’ve since noticed bunches of common weeds for sale in Bethlehem souk.

Here’s how we prepare these herbs in the Bustan Qaraaqa kitchen. (Thanks Im Samir!)

All herbs are best collected before they begin to flower. Prepare the food the same day you collect it. One kilo is a good quantity if you intend to feed a few people.

All these herbs can be eaten raw.

lufeta, ﻟﻔﻴﺘﺔ , halawlaw, ﺣﻠﻮﻟﻮ, khubeza, ﺧﺒﯿﺰﺓ

Wash the leaves and stems thoroughly and chop finely.
Melt butter in a large saucepan with a lid and add chopped onion and black pepper.
Fry the onions gently for five minutes then add all the greens and replace the lid. Turn the heat down as low as possible.
After a couple of minutes stir the greens, replace the lid and turn off the heat.
Juice one lemon to add the greens before serving hot or cold (much better hot).

Alternatively, make bread dough, after the final kneading spread the dough thinly like a thick pizza base and then spread the hubeza/lufeta/halawlaw, over the dough. Now roll the dough like a Swiss roll and bake in a hot oven.

hwera, ﺃﺣﻮﯿﺮﺓ

Hwera is prepared differently.

Wash the leaves and stems thoroughly and chop finely.
Place the chopped leaves in a basin add cold yogurt and a pinch of salt. Leave over night in a cool place. Serve covered in olive oil with plenty of fresh bread. Zaki!

text and photos by Tom
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