Apparently Valentine’s day is celebrated in Lebanon on the 13th; the reason being that the 14th is a national mourning day, to commemorate the brutal assassination (by massive bomb explosion) of the former Prime Minister and two dozen other people.
I admire the flexibility demonstrated by my countrymen. Not one to miss a good party or celebration of any kind, they decided to simply change the date.
I have to point out that I have never experienced a society more prone to celebrations or mournings, expressed noisily. During the summer, hardly a night goes by that you don’t hear explosions and gunfire of some kind. First, you get alarmed and you ask around: “What is going on?” The answer is usually ” Oh, it is nothing, it is a wedding!” or ” it is an election, and so and so won” or ” it is the feast of ….(fill in the blank with the name of the saint or prophet).
The problem with this is people do die from stray bullets. Last summer, the explosions were so bad (RPGs and such) that my friend Hoda and I retreated inside (we were sitting on her balcony). That day, a couple people died and eleven were injured. Why? A politician got elected. It was his16th term.
Of course, I am not including in the mix daily overflights of enemy warplanes and occasional bomb droppings.
As well as the call to prayer and the sound of church bells which punctuate the silence. Or cars honking (during a wedding, fifty cars will honk at the same time); or cart vendors advertising their wares and rattling their tin cups for extra effect.
Which brings me to my neighbor in Dallas, Mary, who was apologizing to me; why? her dog Zoe barked that day. This happened upon my return to the States from Lebanon; this is when you experience culture shock.
I forgot! Happy Valentine!
I am participating with this post to Priya’s hearts for Valentine’s day event.
Ghoraybeh is a traditional cookie, basically a shortbread. Made with ghee and flour or fine semolina and some sugar. Period.
- 6 ounces shortening (Crisco is fine)(170 g)
- 12 ounces cake flour or a mixture of all-purpose and rice flour (340 g)
- 5 ounces powdered sugar (160 g)
- flavoring: 1 tablespoon of rose or orange blossom water
- if needed, an egg white to bind the dough (or half of an egg white)
- Cream the shortening and sugar in a mixing bowl for at least 10 minutes until the mixture is considerably lighter in color.
- Add the sifted flour gradually and mix just until incorporated. If the dough is too dry, add the flavoring and (or) the egg white. The dough should be smooth and moist. Wrap in plastic and let it rest in the fridge for one hour or longer.
- Roll the dough between two sheets of wax paper if you are going to use it with cutouts. If making the traditional ring shape, use a small scoop; scoop out even-sized portions, one at a time, roll between your fingers to get a sausage shape and connect the two ends. Place a pistachio or pine nuts on top of the connected point.
- Place the formed cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Heat the oven to 325F and bake for 15 minutes, without letting the cookies brown. Traditionally these cookies are white as snow. They will taste delicious even if golden or light brown, so not to worry.
The technique for making the heart-shaped ones could not be simpler. Just roll the dough out and cut into the shape that you wish. Use a smaller cutter for the hole inside. Place the cookie on a parchement-lined baking sheet. Once the cookie is in position, fill the hole with broken bits of hard candy (such as Jolly Rogers) and bake for 10 minutes or so. The candy filling will be melted and bubbly. Don’t remove the cookies until they have cooled completely and the candy has hardened.
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