A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

the power of fruit

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on October 28, 2006

several years ago, a friend and I sat over the remains of supper at our favorite upper west side Vietnamese restaurant, talking dreamily about the upcoming summer in Damascus. stuffed with sticky rice and peanut sauce, my tummy nevertheless happily contemplated the riches of the mezzeh options that awaited it: tabbouleh made with fresh bekdounes, salad with pomegranate dressing, and (from Lebanon) sliced baladi tomatoes, as delicious as they are ugly.

my friend said: oh yes, these are all good, as is the halabi kabab. but what I am longing for is the sultat fawakeh. do you know it?

I said: the what? and no, I don’t know it, but I love the name. my mother, who is always after me to eat more citrus, would be thrilled to hear that in Damascus there is a best selling dish called the power of fruit. where does that name come from?

my friend said: oh, I don’t know, its just a name. haven’t you ever had it? chopped fruits with nutella and chocolate bits sprinkled over it, with fresh whipped cream on top if you are feeling truly decadent. I can’t wait for my first one!

several weeks passed. my friend made it to Damascus, while I stopped over in London (research), Oxford (more research), and Doha (beloved aunt and uncle). finally, I arrived in sham, and saw my first sultat fawakeh on the menu of my favorite comfort food restaurant (well, comfort food syrian style – no mac and cheese but lots of tangy hummus).

sulta …. sulta … sulta … hmmm.

I realized that my friend’s previous trip to Syria had occurred when he was still wrestling with the basics of Arabic. nor, apparently, had he been any more fond of salads than he was now. the mysterious “sulta” was in fact “salata”, and ‘the power of fruit’ was really a chocolate topped fruit salad.

tee hee hee there are some linguistic advantages to being a vegetarian in the Arab world.

and below, another local fruit: the qubbad (also known by other names), a sour naranj used for marmalade. photo courtesy of my friend M, who took this photo as a sampling of the harvest from her Damascus courtyard.

The qubbad (also known by other names), a sour naranj used for marmalade

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3 Responses to “the power of fruit”

  1. intlxpatr said

    Sometimes a misunderstanding is more vivid than the truth! I love the “power of fruit” idea!

  2. Med said

    You forgot the sweetened condensed milk, an ingredient almost as important and the nutella in salatat nutella. I couldn’t believe when I first saw my Syrian friends DRINKING sweetened condensed milk.

    I remember when I first arrived in Damascus I couldn’t get over all of the different fruit treats.
    I love the figs, generet (those hard little sour plums), cherries, akadenia, mishmush (another great word), aosha (? – you know those green almonds) ….. mmmmmm my mouth waters.
    I must say though that I never got into the half rotten persimmon.

  3. […] them as grapefruit’s “ancient ancestor”. I thought at first that this might be the fruit that used to grow in M’s courtyard in Damascus, but it was sour and had a much more puckered surface. The sites I found claim that […]

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