Feast Like a Bedouin!By Mark W. Law (Jun 16th, 2012)
One of the high points of my tour of duty in North Africa was the time spent attached to the Swedish battalion in Baluza, a small town on the Mediterranean coast east of the Suez Canal.
Even though it was early Autumn the daytime temperatures were still above 30 degrees, often well over 40 inland. Luckily for me my ‘shifts’ (English language DJ for Radio Malish – part of the Swedish international service) were early morning, leaving me plenty of time to explore the area.
One morning I was lucky enough to tag along on a regular patrol of the Bedouin communities, even taking part in afternoon tea, a ritual that I discovered is as important in the desert as the ‘high tea’ served at the Empress Hotel in Victoria! But unlike the fussy preparations in finest Sadler pots, Bedouin tea was brewed from loose tea leaves tossed in a large boiling cauldron over an open fire – with a large chunk of sugar cane as both sweetener and ‘pot stirrer’! Once brewed to the colour of tar the tea was ladled hot into tall glasses and gingerly sipped while trying to avoid third degree burns to your fingertips! No sugar or milk, no dainty slice of lemon in this tea!
The tea had an amazing invigorating effect! Sweat poured down my face and I felt at least 10 degrees cooler, something I never achieved with an icy bottle of Labatt’s on the back deck of the Junior Ranks Mess!
Today we are expecting temperatures in the Teeswater area to reach near 30, persisting warm for the next few days. Even the thought of firing up the barbecue for dogs or burgers sounds rather unappealling. With Mrs.B. and the JG still snoozing and Benner fresh home from the 5 a.m. milking time to take a page out of the Bedouin cookbook and beat the heat, so to speak!
Tonight’s menu will be mostly Mediterranean and Middle Eastern, cool and tasty, with just a wee bit of zip:
- A fresh pasta salad is chilling in the fridge – fusilli, red pepper, onions, garlic and mixed veg, topped with a dash of mayonnaise and my Balsamic vinaigrette, and a liberal sprinkling of Cumin. Total prep time about 20 minutes.
- Later today we will make Couscous in the microwave. About 5 minutes or so without heating up the stove! Did you know Couscous is among the healthiest grain-based products. It has a glycemic load per gram 25% below that of pasta. It has a superior vitamin profile to pasta, containing twice as much riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, and folate, and containing four times as much thiamine and pantothenic acid!
- Add to that a Feta Salad Mrs.B. will whip together about 4 o’clock (I will be on veggie chopping).
- And if the meat lovers in the house are looking for that blast of ‘protein’ I will probably stir-fry some cubes of Tofu with Soba noodles and a light teriyaki sauce.
There, a yummy hot weather dinner without heating up the entire kitchen or standing over a hot barbecue.
Then again, maybe I will fire up the barbecue with a large pasta pot of water on it…
I wonder if the River Village Coop has sugar cane…
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Just when I was about to post this article I remembered a picture of my friend Dave Cairns riding a camel the day we spent with the Bedouins! – BONUS! – ml