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Breaking Bread in the Galilee
A Cultural Journey into the Promised Land.
Abbie Rosner. 238 pages. Softcover

Abbie Rosner writes a warm and personal account of her experiences living in the Galilee. American born Rosner writes about the cultural differences between life in North American and the Middle East and life in the big city and rural life in the Galilee.

The Galilee is a mix of people and cultures. There are both Jews and Bedouin, Israeli farmers and Arab Falachim. Foods bridge the gap between people, as we learn about the way the cultures borrow from each others food styles.

This book is a treasure of information about the vegetation in the Galilee and the eating styles in various cultures. You'll find tips on how to prepare edible wild plants and explanations of how some of the Middle Eastern staples are prepared. Zatar, for example,is a processed food. The herb is mixed with other ingredients before it is used as a condiment.

Rosner describes visits to local villages to cook with the villagers. Entering with some trepidation she was welcomed and became a treasured friend, learning how to cook the indigenous growth in the Galil.

Atkins be damned, bread is a staple in the Arab diet. In the section Baking and Ovens, Rosner describes her association with Ayoub of the village Fassuta, where they continue the traditional farming techniques, making their own bread from home-grown wheat.

Several different types of ovens are used by the locals. Wood burning ovens are the ovens of choice, Though they do smoke up the room, they give the food a special taste.

"Cooking dough on stones heated in a fire is the most ancient form of baking known to mankind." Pita bread is made in a wood burning oven lined with small stones from the Kinneret. A long handled wooden paddle is used to slide a circle of dough over the hot stones., where it takes on the lumpy contours. The loaf is then flipped over to the other side. In one minute the bread is pulled out of the oven, golden and steaming hot.

Rosner describes how the local villagers together with her friends build a clay tabun oven on her property, adding layers, burning it, and then adding more layers where it had cracked. This is a great story of cooperation between people and maintaining ancient traditions.

Breaking Bread in the Galilee is a real-time sociological study told by a master storyteller. Rosner's smart and lively writing style makes this a page turner. A most interesting and informative book that is just a good read.

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