Top 10 Suggestions to Make Your Picnic More Arab in America
By Myrna Daher/Contributing Writer
Arabs are known for their lavish dress designs and extraordinary parties, which certainly include something as laid-back as a picnic. In reality the picnic is just another reason for Arabs to gather and exchange dishes, play tawleh/backgammon and cards, while dancing to Arab music, and smoking hookah. The Arabs take great joy in large gatherings in all 22 Arab countries, and they do it big!
Saudis tend to gather at the desert or the beach, and of course, grill kabab and shish tawook (chicken). Whereas the Lebanese, go to the beach or the mountains with the derbeke and music and lahm (meat) for grilling with batikh (watermelon) to wash it down and cool off.
I actually did a poll on Facebook with all my Arab friends. It was interesting how excited everyone was to participate in this conversation. Based on the answers received, here are the top 10 suggestions on how to make your picnic more Arab in America whether it’s on the beach, in the mountains, or the desert.
Be sure to take with you:
All types of fruit, and of course watermelon! A quick cool down from all the dancing!
2. NUTS and SEEDS
Pumpkin seeds/bizer and nuts because you cannot just have one handful.
Vegetables to add on the kababs: onions, peppers, and tomatoes…
4. CHICKEN and LAMB
Chicken and lamb for the kababs. The best thing about this, is that it’s grilled on silver steel skewers for perfection.
5. GAMES and MUSIC
Cards, tawleh/backgammon, music or even be prepared to sing; gather in a circle and sing poetry or legendary music. Why not also bring along with you the Oud and derbeke/tableh
6. GRAPE LEAVES
Grape leaves with a lot of fresh squeezed lemon juice, don’t forget the yogurt for the dipping
Source: The Mediterranean Dish
Fattoush salad which is a combination of cucumbers, tomatoes, pita chips with lemon and olive oil dressing, Tabbouleh made of parsley, chopped onions, tomatoes, lemon and olive oil dressing.
8. TURKISH COFFEE
The world has moved to a point of constant polarization. In the United States, government action is often at a standstill due to disparities between parties. Abroad, the Gulf Cooperation Council has all but abandoned one of their members.
Don’t forget the thermos full of Turkish coffee and maybe some of you may want to venture with arak-the licorice drink. Of course also tea after eating all that amazing food.
It’s easy to pack and serve the variety of pies: meat, spinach, za’tar, and cheese. Try it dipped in lebneh (form of yogurt cheese)
Source: New York Times
Falafel rolled in soft pita (Arab) bread with pickles and tahini… Sounds so delicious!
The great thing about these recommendations is that they come from Arabs living in America. The gathering of our friends and family is what we do best. This YouTube video was taken of a group of tourists from France who traveled to Lebanon and experienced their first picnic Arab style:
Here in America we have our traditions, even the picnic ones, that we brought with us from back home, or were instilled in us by our parents and grandparents. We make our picnic gatherings so much fun with music, dancing and telling stories and jokes. We play cards, backgammon, smoke the hookah, and eat pumpkin seeds. We top it off by sipping Turkish coffee or arak. We definitely enjoy every moment together.
Take two or three recommendations and turn your picnic into great fun by making it more Arab in America!