April 18, 2014

Well Being: Today’s shaman song

Photo taken in Senegal, courtesy Austrian photographer Herwig.

BY DALIA BASIOUNY Cairo – Shamans are medicine men and women in the tribal cultures from Northern Siberia to tropical Africa and the Americas. They are known to facilitate transition and work between the physical realm and the spiritual non-material world. They communicate with the elements and the plant kingdom. In modern societies they act as conduits between worlds; they help their fellow humans who are troubled either in mind or in body. Shamans do not choose their job. They are chosen for their life path by higher powers. In primal societies, the shaman is summoned. She hears the song…

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Buttered up: Out with the old

Orzo Pudding. (Photo by Sarah Khanna)

BY SARAH KHANNA “Chili sauce? But where’s the ketchup?” I huffed and puffed at my bag of artery-blocking fries, limp after their trip to me on the back of a motorbike. Only having started to eat ketchup recently, I could not understand why my new home at the time, Kuala Lumpur, was not delivering on my need to fit into the ketchup-dunking French fry-eating globalized world of 2008. Surely I could not yet be expected to accustom my tongue to rojak (a mixture of fruit and a zingy shrimp paste dressing) when I was still so fresh off the Boeing….

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Buttered Up: Cowhide and turnovers

Chaussons aux Pommes (French Apple Turnovers). (Photo by Sarah Khanna)

BY SARAH KHANNA Only yesterday I was gifted an early 1980s Rwandan cowhide rug as a housewarming present. At first I was unsure about laying it out, granting it the power to open up thoughts of guests about the ethical treatment of animals. What does it say about me, about our home? It has been a year since I witnessed the slaughter of a sheep for the first time. On Friday, it will happen again and I have chosen to go. It is not a pleasant experience. It is unlikely that it ever will be, but it is necessary to…

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BUTTERED UP: Raisin cake and the seed bombs

Raisin Cake. (Photo by Sarah Khanna)

BY SARAH KHANNA Felix Baumgartner is on television and in about a minute he will jump from an altitude of around 39,000 meters to Earth. I am piled up on a cream couch, cool blue blanket on my thighs and a thick cut of cake in my hand, eagerly waiting as the television presenters call it a historic moment like they do with most else. He opens the capsule and flies as I gawk with a gaping mouth at our world which hauls its farmers into court over patented (genetically modified) GMO seeds; which now passes pizza off as a…

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Buttered Up: A story of chicken liver

Garlic and Pomegranate Chicken Livers (Photo by Sarah Khanna).

BY SARAH KHANNAI like chicken liver. It is a recent attraction. For the first 20 or so years of my life, liver had not been deemed welcome in my vicinity. At the times I encountered it, I could only smell rust and decided early on that it was not the kind of smell I’d like to have in my mouth. Growing up in the Arab world, liver was a dish that was bound to come up, at a dinner, as a mezze, at a family gathering, on many a street cart; it was too everywhere for my liking. “What does…

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Pulling the strings

From left Ayman Samir, Moustafa El Refaey  and Wesam Masoud.

BY WESAM MASOUD Someone with far more wit than me said “Acting is easy, comedy is hard”. That same aphorism can be applied to a professional kitchen; once you’ve learned the basic techniques, cooking individual ingredients can be a walk in the park. What’s hard is bringing all those techniques, ingredients and flavors together on one plate. It’s a balancing act that few can pull off, and even fewer can perform masterfully. Success in this endeavor is often difficult; people have different tastes and while the technical ability required to create a sublime chicken liver terrine is high, it is…

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Buttered Up: Restaurant service blues

Orange Mustard Chicken. (Photo by Sarah Khanna)

BY SARAH KHANNAI can forgive a chef for a mediocre day in the kitchen. I may not have enjoyed the meal but if I’m comfortable in my space, haven’t gotten ill and am greeted with pleasant efficient service, I will readily come back to give the place another try and order something different on the menu. Eating out at any of the new hip places littering Zamalek and Maadi doesn’t come cheap and so it would be assumed that service must be procedure and detail oriented. After several visits to those that call themselves gourmet and to those boastful of…

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Buttered Up: Granitas for summer’s end

Carrot Orange Granita. (Photo by Sarah Khanna)

BY SARAH KHANNA My sweet tooth was a late bloomer with a so-so desire to occasionally inhale shortbread biscuits, chocolate mousse and carrot cake — in that order of preference. Away from those, there was little that captured my attention. I was the child at the party that might forgo a slice of birthday cake topped with a clean cut of the marzipan superhero’s head. I’m still the person at the wedding who really doesn’t want any sharbat, who’d rather not have the sugar-coated almonds offered when a baby is born, who’d be a dull partner at a cupcake shop….

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Buttered Up: No rush chocolate mousse

Chocolate Mousse. (Photo  by Sarah Khanna)

BY SARAH KHANNA I’ve just returned from the north coast, where my days learned to slow themselves down, to breathe to the beat of the sea. There, all that pressed me was the urge to pick off those white specks of sand that had plastered themselves onto my now darker skin. Leaving the beach has left me with only one thought that is really nothing new. We are so rushed in Cairo and so stuck in traffic that there is time left for little. It has affected me faster than I would have imagined and I fell for a short…

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Welcome to Egypt: Down memory lane

A return to the Zamalek building 15 years later triggered unexpected sentiments.

BY MARIE-JEANNE BERGER When I was a child I lived on one of those sepia-coloured roads off of Brazil street in Zamalek. The ones with the big leafy trees. People ask me if I remember this part of my life, and sometimes I think that maybe I construct these memories. I see the images that I have seen many times since — the ones of me in Alexandria at the Cecil, or in front of the train station, clutching my toy rifle and rabbit, wearing the mary-janes and smocked dresses and boater hats that made me look just like Madeline….

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