Archive for the ‘FOOD’ Category
Rice is stored in a bamboo shelter finished with clay. This storage belongs to a Hindu family in the Khulna region of Bangladesh. The storage also functions as a prayer altar. In front of the altar a ‘Tulsi’ (Ocimum tenuiflorum or Ocimum sanctum) tree can be observed. Almost every Hindu household has one or several ‘Tulsi’ plants as Hindus worship the Tulsi plant as the Goddess Lakshmi, who is the consort of Lord Vishnu the Creator. The Tulsi plant also has many healing properties aside from its religious symbolism, making it ideal for worship since it has the ability to heal. The extracts from Tulsi leaves are used in traditional Ayurvedic medicines.
Source used for this blog:
The significance of the Tulsi plant – Hindu Community
When I was in Afghanistan last year I used to go to a local market to buy delicious fruit and vegetables. The tomatoes tasted particularly good. I saved some of the seeds and wrapped them in a tissue and brought them back to the Netherlands. The tissue with the seeds lay around for months until it was finally time to plant the seeds. And this is the result:
I love Egyptian food and even though I’m a vegetarian there are plenty of delicious dishes to enjoy without meat. There’s foul, a sort of bean paste which has many different varieties and which I ate at least 4 times a week (7 times a week for breakfast and dinner during field work), there’s humus, a chickpea paste that also has many varieties. Lentil soup is also one of my favorites but the most delicious dish is definitely baba ganough, a paste made out of eggplant. All these dishes are usually eaten with fresh baladi bread. I love baba ganough and I used to eat it with my friends late at night after we visited an exhibition, during Iftar (breaking of the fast during Ramadan) or Suhoor (the pre-dawn breakfast), or just on a night out chatting, having drinks and eating bread with foul. My friends grew accustomed to my baba ganough obsession and would order a dish of baba ganough especially for me. Baba ganough became my second name.
I haven’t eaten baba ganough since I came back to the Netherlands in January; until yesterday! Yesterday I went into an Arab/Turkish shop and I found baba ganough. It is so weird the way a small tin of food can bring back so many memories, happy ones in this case, unlike the sight of jelly pudding which I hate because I was forced to eat it in hospital when I was very little and sick.
I ate the baba ganough with Lebanese bread and of course it wasn’t the same thing. All circumstances had changed: there was not the smell of shisha, it wasn’t 40C and I wasn’t sticking to a plastic chair, the air wasn’t buzzing with energy, no noise of crazy traffic and people, no smell of exhaust fumes, no people selling me handkerchiefs, but above all my friends weren’t there.
Nevertheless this tiny tin of baba ganough did bring back some good memories of people and a country I feel very affectionate about.
Posted in DEVELOPMENT, EGYPT, FOOD, PHOTOGRAPHY, tagged avian influenza, Bread, civil unrest, demonstrations, Egypt, Ellen geerlings, food, food crisis, food price, food security, food subsidy, photography, poverty, subsidized bread, subsidy system, travel on May 2, 2011| 1 Comment »
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization Food Price Index in January 2011 exceeded the peak of the 2007-2008 food price crisis. When it comes to food, the boundaries between stability and disorder are easily crossed. In how far increases in food prices stand at the bases of the unrest now seen in the Middle East is unclear but it is clear that food prices can be an important factor in causing civil unrest and a catalyst for anti-government protests. Egypt has been at the epicenter of recent unrest in the Middle East. With more than 40% of the population living on less than 2$ a day, volatility of food prices can easily contribute to instability and unrest on the streets.
For privacy reasons fictive names have been used in this blog.
The information in this blog is based on interviews carried out by my colleagues and me in Suhag, Assuit, Menia and Fayoum governorates in the months of October and November 2010. This research was part of my PhD research exploring how HPAI and the food crisis have affected the food security and livelihood situations of rural households in Egypt.
I’d like to thank FAO for providing the opportunity to do my PhD research during an FAO assignment
I’d like to thank Eman Abdel Raouf, Arwa El Naggar, Gebril Mahjoub Osman and AbdelHakim Ali for translations and good company.
The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) has reproduced, edited and published my post under the title: Food and Egypt: Did high food prices help stir the public revolt?
Related posts about Egypt:
‘Uncertain times in Egypt’: a small feature in Farming Matters magazine produced by ileia
All the photos posted on my blog are owned by me and they should not be used without my permission
Posted in BIRD FLU, DEVELOPMENT, EGYPT, FOOD, PERSONAL, PHOTOGRAPHY, tagged avian influenza, bird flu, career doubts, development, Egypt, Ellen geerlings, food, food crisis, food price, H5N1, politics, poverty, research, travel, travelling on October 28, 2010| 2 Comments »
I’m now in the Assuit University guest house. The notice at the entrance made me smile; ‘Assiut University guest house wishes you to spend the Happiest times and the most Beautiful nights’. Unfortunately the notice was followed by a set of rules that make having the ‘Happiest times and most Beautiful nights’ a bit of a challenge…
I and 3 colleagues have been ‘on the road’ for about 10 days now and after a couple of near dead experiences I’ve learned a great deal about Egypt traffic rules (or the lack thereof). Overtaking can be done passing left or right and overtaking a car that is already overtaking another car is perfectly fine as long as you use your horn during the procedure. Driving while shouting to another driver in the car next to you using the other lane at a speed of about 100km/hour is ok too. Obviously none of this moves my Egyptian fellow passengers one bit so I’ve decided to do as the Egyptians and leave it all up to God. So I relax sit back and enjoy the ride. ‘Insha’Allah’ all will be ok.
We have been visiting 9 villages and will be visiting 15 more in Upper Egypt. We’re revisiting people that have participated in an FAO study in 2007 assessing the impact of bird flu on people’s livelihoods. We want to see what changes have occurred since 2007 in terms of the number of birds they keep, the importance of poultry for income and other services and changes in attitude and behaviour in relation to bird flu. It’s quite a challenge trying to locate all the respondents, some names have been lost in translation, some have moved away and one entire village could not be visited because of an armed conflict.
In all honesty this research has been quite frustrating for us for many different reasons. It takes great effort and a whole lot of patience to conduct the interviews. Not all people –understandably- want to tell us about their income, diets and behaviours. Others for whatever reason give very confusing and contradictory answers which makes the interviews unreliable, while others prefer to talk A LOT about other things. This however is part of most research. It gets more difficult and above all embarrassing when people tell you that they don’t need another study, they need food. If you could see some of these people it is blatantly obvious they have not been ‘able to provide a ‘normal’ meal for themselves and their family members in the past year’ as one of the questions in our questionnaire states … One widowed old lady with bad eyesight and hearing lives in a tiny clay house, sleeps on a hard bed and her toilet consists of a hole in the floor of her tiny house. All she owns is 4 chickens and the rest of her possessions are contained in a few plastic bags. She spends all her money on food and regularly will have only tea and dry bread for her meals. Try telling these people that this research could possibly contribute to changes in policy that might be of benefit to them in years to come.
In those moments I feel pretty hopeless and I feel like giving up on ‘development’ work and doing something entirely different. No matter how much I love working with farmers, learning from them and spending time with colleagues in the field it is difficult sometimes to see how it might be of benefit. I only wish to be of more help to others but don’t seem to have found the right place and the right way to do it YET… But I’m confident I will eventually!