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A letter Remembering Palestine By Ahmad Salim Awdeh
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Posted by Ahmad Awdeh on November 27, 2007
A Letter to a Friend

I have learnt something useful, thanks to Salalah, Oman
And I am proud of it

Now I know how to cook bamyeh
No, I'm not kidding
They call bamyeh okra in English, don't they?

Heat 7 spoons of...

Please forgive me
Before I continue with the recipe
Let me say this

These days
Everybody is talking about elections in Beirut
And here I am, talking about bamyeh
Odd, isn't it

You see, I have no elections
No elections for me
No right to these elections
Or any other national elections

Perhaps you can accept this for an excuse

Step 1
Heat 7 spoons...

Perhaps you don't know my national status
I am "stateless"
This is the United Nations label
That is to say
The national identity for me
And for 5 million Palestians like me
We live in Diaspora

They gave my land to the Jews
And gave the Jews' Diaspora to me

Land for Diaspora
Diaspora for land

Again, sing with me:
Land for Diaspora
Diaspora for land

Congratulations to the United Nations

Land for Diaspora
Diaspora for land

Unfair ?
Inhuman ?

Say this and the world will insult your intelligence
Fight for your land
And you know what the world will call you

Step 1
Heat 7...

Why to cook bamyeh?
Well, food in Salalah is rich in spices
Indian kitchen
And it is rich in fats
Omani kitchen
There is one Chinese restaurant
The Chinese Cascade Restaurant
Its only safe menu for me is steamed rice and clear vegetable soup

I had to prepare my own meal since last September
The time I joined Dhofar University

I took to grilling fish in my kitchenette
Fish is fresh and plenty in Salalah
Direct from the Indian Ocean
And it's cheap
They sell it in heaps
Half the price at Habs el Al'ah in Beirut

I was fed up with fish

I like bamyeh in oil
And bamyeh is plenty in Salalah
And organic
Bamyeh and its co-ingredient tomato are plenty and organic in Salalah

I called home in Beirut and got the steps

Step 1
Heat 7 spoons of olive oil

Not any olive oil
You want to eat bamyeh in oil
It must be virgin oil
My best olive oil in Lebanon is from Deir Mimas, at the borderline with Palestine
Al Kora and Deir Anoon are not my best choice

Go up the highest rise in the mountain of Deir Mimas
And look south
On a clear day you will see my hometown Al Zeeb
The olive groves of both Deir Mimas and Al Zeeb breathe the same air
And bathe in the same sun

Step 1
Heat 7 spoons of olive oil in a deep pan
Be careful the oil does not burn
In Salalah the best olive oil is Pantaleo, Italian
Empty your 500 grams of cleaned bamyeh pods into the pan
Let them roast and dandle for 10 minutes
Peel 5 tomatoes
Ripe and medium size
Peel them thin
Cigarette paper thin, to keep the vitamins in the tomato
Boiling to peel is not recommended
It is easier but not recommended

Mince the tomatoes and add them to the bamyeh in the pan
Add a small spoon of iodized salt
5 garlics, peeled, of course
2 spoons of tomato paste
Stir gently and briefly
Cover the pan

20 minutes and you have bamyeh in oil

Of course, my first two or three attempts were a mess

Now my bamyeh cooking is good
Not cordon bleu as they say in French
It's good enough for me and I am proud of it

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