A Time to Fast, a Time to Feast

The month of Ramadan, that started this year on August 1st, has passed the halfway mark.  For observant Muslims, this means less than two more weeks of the daily fast – that extends from the pre-sunrise meal through dinner at sundown. 

Lately, I’ve been waking up at 4 AM with the sound of the Muezzin’s call from the neighboring Bedouin village.   And I think of my friend Balkees and her family, roused from their beds and sitting around the table in the darkness, sharing a meal of fresh whole-wheat pita bread, home-made labaneh sprinkled with zaatar (also home-made), and chunks of sweet, refreshing watermelon – an intense dose of hydration for the dry day ahead. 

But my turn to fast is still a few months away, so today I am indulging in my favorite Galilee lunch:  farike, vegetable salad and yoghurt, topped with toasted almonds.  A marvel to behold and savor!

Bagels With a Twist

Every family has their Yom Kippur fast-breaking tradition, and ours involves a spread of bagels, cream cheese, smoked salmon, pickled herring, etc. This is a nod to the tradition that I grew up with in the United States, and homage to my grandfather, who was in the deli business, and whose dining room table never lacked these good things.

But real bagels are not easy to find in the Galilee, so my husband Ron, the intrepid baker, has learned to make them himself – the real way – without skipping the boiling water immersion. His bagels are excellent.

My friend Balkees from Nazareth, who is an extremely accomplished baker, was very interested when Ron told her about his bagels, so one morning she came to our house and they prepared them together, step by step.

Ron's Bagels

The next time I visited Balkees, she proudly displayed her own freshly-baked bagels. Everything that Balkees prepares, she adds her own little twist, and these bagels were no exception. Into the dough she added zaatar spice mixture – giving the bagels a slight green color and a wonderful, local flavor. So this year, at Yom Kippur, we feasted on one bowl of regular onion bagels, and one with zaatar.

Happy New Year!