Saturday, September 12, 2009

Saturday Snippet: The Collaborator of Bethlehem

I could have picked any number of passages from Matt Beynon Rees wonderful tale of Omar Yussef's quest to save his former pupil, George Saba, from wrongful prosecution. I chose this one because I like the idea of food creating a map of life.

He spooned out a helping of fattoush, a Syrian salad of mint, parsley, romaine lettuce and chopped pita bread. He had only to place Maryam’s fattoush in his mouth and the sharpness of her lemon vinaigrette would transport him to a café in the Damascus souk where he had spent many wonderful times in his youth. Maryam hadn’t been there with him, but somehow she seemed to have tasted what he had tasted. It was as though her cooking made a map for him of his life story. It was comforting like a well-bound, old atlas that took your imagination across mountain ranges without the physical exertion, annoyance, and inconvenience of actual travel. He wondered if Louai Abdel Rahman felt the same way about Dima’s cooking. Perhaps he hadn’t been married to her long enough for the taste of her grape leaves to supplant that of his mother’s in his memories of taste and happiness. Omar Yussef thought that, as the fugitive crept home through the dusk, he would have been struggling to concentrate on the dangers around him. A mother’s cooking and its redolence of home was powerful for any Palestinian. He was comforted that at least the boy had died anticipating pleasure.

I'm going to have to get lunch now. My review of The Collaborator of Bethlehem is here.

1 comment:

Dorte H said...

Bon appetit!

You never know what may happen when you blog about food, though. I brought a Camilleri quotation about food back in June and got the following reaction: