11 Old Items that Remind Me of My Palestinian Grandmother
BY: Raneem Ghunaim/ Arab America contributing writer
Life back then differs from our lives now. The things we use to play with, cook with, and create with have changed over the years. Every now and then I cross paths with items that just bring me back home. Certain smells that I can’t help remember my childhood. To help you get a glimpse of what life was like back then, I will list the top 10 things that remind me of home, especially my grandmother.
Basket or السلة
My grandma as a kid used to wake up early every morning, take her basket, and start picking up fruits. She would pick out the ripe pomegranates and the fresh cherries. Often she would use her basket just to transport items from one place to the other. Whenever I see pictures as such or any baskets really. I remember my grandmother, and how much fun she had picked out cherries with her sisters while enjoying the fresh air. The strength and willingness that took from her, I admire. How she would go to the fields every day to pick out all that is ripe and ready to eat, is amazing. She would come home by the afternoon, place the fruits on the table for someone to lightly wash and enjoy them.
I remember my mom telling me how back then my grandma and everyone else really never used to wash their fruits all that much. Because everything they grew themselves and chemicals were not something that they used–at all.
Griddle or صاج الجبز
You have never tasted good bread until you try bread that has been made this way. What this is, basically it’s a stone oven. You put your raw dough here and in minutes it gets cooked. Personally, my family has never used it, but my grandma used to make her bread on here. Whenever we would go back home we would buy it. In almost every bakery in the Middle East, you will find خبز الطابون which is the type of bread that is mostly done on these stoves. The flavor is indescribable. Next time you visit Palestine or Jordan be sure to stop by at your local bakery and get yourself some, its that good!
Water Well or البئر
As a kid, I never experienced drinking straight from water well, but my dad and grandma did. He would tell me all these stories of him as a kid. How no matter what hour of the day he went to get the water it would always be nice and cold. How often it was tiring to carry water back and forth. Especially if they needed a lot that day. His stories were endless, stories that I loved hearing about over and over again. Whenever I see a water well I remember my dad and how he at one point in his life used the well as a source of water. Equivalent to me turning on the numb when I need access to water.
Leblebi or قضامه
One of my favorite snacks of all time. I remember when my grandpa come and visit us after her trip to Palestine. She would bring a whole suitcase worth of candy and olive oil. But most importantly leblebi. It is only dried chickpeas, but the flavor is amazing. It’s not too sweet and not too sour just right. This snack is common in Palestine, Syria, Iran, and Turkey. But of course, you can find it in almost every other Middle Eastern country.
Old Candle lights or قنديل
Growing up whenever I needed to light up a room, I would simply turn on a switch. My grandmother however did not grow up having light switching. Instead, they used old candle lights. Although it is called “candle lights” yet they never used candles to light it up. Instead, they used Kerosene, this oil was safe to use and did that job. When it got dark out and my grandmother wanted to study or read anything she would turn it on and read underneath it.
Al Disit or الدست
Whenever there was a wedding or a celebration going on in my grandmother’s town, they would pull out their disit to make the food. Because they were cooking for hundreds of people a medium family-size pot would not be enough to do the job. Instead, they used the disit. It is a big pot that Palestinian women like my grandmother would use to make food. Often with this specific pot was made for making Qidreh.
Mankal al maftool or منخل المفتل
Almost everything was done by hand during my grandmother’s days. One of her favorites dishes was el maftool. They used to make this by hand and using a huge sifter as shown above to get the circular shape. This process used to take her hours. But the results were always rewarding.
lunch box or صفرطاص
Whenever my grandmother would go to pick cherries for the day, that process would take her hours. Often it would take her half the day if not all. And because the fields used to be a little far away from her house, she would take one of these and fill them with food. They are little containers that protect your food. People that are planning on going away for a while or even work would bring these along. In it, she would fill one with olives, other with cheese, some type of bread, and fruits.
As a transportation method, my grandmother used to either walk to places, or ride her donkey. However, owning a donkey back then was equivalent to owning a car. Meaning those that are not as wealthy were stuck walking around. My grandmother was one of the lucky ones who had a donkey to use for transportation.
Loofa or الليفة معموله من القرعة المجففة
And finally, this loof that was made using dried up zucchini was used when bathing. Many people including my grandmother back in the day did not have bathtubs. So instead they used this bucket to pour water on themselves, and that loof to wash their bodies.
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