Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Collecting The Crop


The farmers here have very tiny plots of land, usually less than an acre. The miracle of the Nile Valley is that it grows so much food in so little space. One of the primary summer crops is okra which grows on stalks that get taller and taller all summer while bearing lovely cream coloured flowers with deep burgundy centers. The okra plants are covered in fine irritating prickles, necessitating the women and men who pick the okra pods to be covered almost entirely in the summer heat. The okra then is carried to a central weighing station where it is bought on its first step to the market or to the processing plant to be frozen or dried. After the last harvest to go to market the remaining pods are kept for seed for the following summer and the woody stalks are cut to be dried for firewood during the winter.

6 comments:

Urang Awak said...

Very Informative Marianne, I love Egypt!I hope everything will go smoothly for my 2009 travle plan to Egypt. Wish me Luck!

ROITER said...

hi mari
i love this food as an egyptian
try it ,it is very good

xeper said...

Very informative :) If I wasnt pinned to Cairo for my work I wouldve lived somewhere rural.

(Could you please include the Egyptian name of crops and things you mention? It would help us urban Egyptians who dont know those names in English. Thanks)

Maryanne Stroud Gabbani said...

Okra is called bamia locally. It's a wonderful food and very good for you. The usual recipe is to make a sort of stew with small chunks of meat (not necessary to use much), okra, tomato sauce or pureed fresh tomatoes, garlic, onion, some dried coriander (cusbara), cumin (camoon), a cardamom (habahan) seed, and a small Egyptian lemon that you squeeze the juice from, discard the seeds and then toss the rind into the pot. Cook until tender and add salt and pepper to taste. I also like to use the ground dried okra (bamia) as a soup thickener, which is a more Sudanese recipe.

xeper said...

Thanks a million for all those words.. I have put them in my post about food names in Egypt, planned for Jan 28.
Do you know any reference telling you which food in Egyptian name is which in English instead of my compiling such a list?
The whole internet talks about food properties but I cannot really translate to 'the Arabic names, even less to Egyptian names.

Maryanne Stroud Gabbani said...

Either look in Diwan for some locally written cook books or email me privately. One of the first things to learn as a housewife here was the names of foods and spices. I have a great cookbook on Mediterranean fish written by a British amabassador whose name escapes me right now that lists the names of fish in all the languages surrounding the Med.