A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

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

raw meat is important: more adventures in arabic.

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on November 6, 2006

As a vegetarian, I find myself often at a loss when confronted with the rich vocabulary used for most of the world’s cuisines. I cringe at the memory of sitting down to supper with two friends in Paris, and finding myself – the hostess and resident parisienne – suddenly useless as a translator. the beautifully described specials? mmm, no idea. the exquisite amuse-bouche and entrees? errr, can’t quite say. the short list of perfectly done mains? desolee S & C, mais you are on your own.

that memory pales next to another one, when I over-confidently confirmed for my brother-in-law that the spring rolls he had ordered were filled with chicken wing meat. some niggling worry wormed its way through my brain overnight, and the next morning my heart did the proverbial sink to the floor as I realized that I had steered my Massachusetts bred, meat and three raised beau frere towards shark fin spring rolls.

fast forward to this fall and an evening chat on msn. I was complaining about having not done something or other, or having done it badly. my friend replied, sympathetically, el-niyyeh mohimmeh.

I assumed he was hungry, or that this was just some lost in translation lubneini expression. after all, I hear that in Baalbek people eat raw meat all the time, so perhaps “raw meat is important” is a much deeper expression than it sounds.

hahahahahaha, he said. you mean nayyeh, as in kibbe nayyeh, raw ground meat. niyyeh means intention. the intention is important.

I’ve seen nayyeh written in Arabic, but had forgotten its pronunciation. once again, foiled by my eating foibles.

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3 Responses to “raw meat is important: more adventures in arabic.”

  1. skunk said

    lol raw is important tho 😛

    cooking tends to destroy all the goodness that comes from meat or fish or shellfish or veggies.

    you ought to combine the two actually: the raw intention is important 😛

    think about it, its deep 😛

    i shall now attempt a crude construction of an arabic sentance:

    al niyyeh nayyeh mohimmeh.

    spread it around and we’ll have been the founders of a proverb 😀

  2. hmmm. what you have actually said is: intention is raw [and] important, which is different but not unappealing.

    and you are right: raw-ness is important. hence the english expression, raw courage. cooking seems to destroy all the goodness that comes from the courage as well :-).

  3. very nice blog!mary

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