A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

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

Archive for the ‘prosciutto’ Category

in another lebanon …

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on August 16, 2007

… people read headlines like this one:

Roller coasters, funnel cakes and pig races in Lebanon

As an avid if sometimes bemused Iowa State Fair-goer, I fully support bringing more fair culture to this country. Its already a carnival – why not try for something a bit more wholesome?


Posted in animals, Lebanon, prosciutto, words | Leave a Comment »

“the pigs’ water trough”: mis-adventures in Arabic

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on March 13, 2007

On Sunday afternoon I was invited to lunch at the house of a family whose eldest child I know from the states.

Their apartment building is in an area not too far from mine, in another well-known-to-be-Muslim neighborhood of West Beirut. On Saturday night my friend H drove me there so I would be able to find my way on Sunday. (In ‘typical Lebanese’ small-town Beirut fashion, H knew the building because their mothers are friends, and an uncle lives in an adjacent building.)

H’s instructions were excellent and much appreciated, but at one intersection I still hesitated, unsure whether I should turn left or go straight.

Beirut being Beirut, there were plenty of soldiers around, so I decided to ask two of them for help.

There are times in life that feel like “car accident” moments, in which I see the accident coming but am somehow powerless to stop it.

In this case, the accident was linguistic.

When my friends had called to invite me for lunch, they told me the name of their area: Sakiet al-Janzeer. Hmm, I remember thinking, that sounds quite a lot like khanzeer. I must be careful not to mix up the two.

Sakiet (saqiyya) means irrigation ditch or canal – some type of water trough.

Janzeer isn’t a word I know, but the dictionary tells me that it (jinzeer) means chain or track, like the chain of a necklace or the track of a tank.

Khanzeer, of course, means pig.

The direction of this particular misadventure may now be clear.

I walked up to the two soldiers lounging on the corner, pushed back my sunglasses, and asked pleasantly,

Where is the pigs’ water trough?

Oh, I could have killed myself – I was so embarrassed. As for the two men, they were killing themselves with laughter.

Posted in Americans, animals, Arabic, Beirut, family, food, friends, guilt, home, Islam, Lebanon, prosciutto, religion, words | 2 Comments »

Iowa: Pork Capital of the World

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on February 10, 2007

Thanks to my long-suffering friend A’s continued willingness to tolerate my blithe appropriation of his Beirut post office box, I enjoy a steady stream of US magazines, college alumni mailings, and scholarly journals.

They all piled up this fall, when I was in the states, and since returning to Beirut I have been diligently reading my way from August to January. Happily for me this meant that I was able to fast forward through some unappealing trends – super-skinny jeans, for example.

Tucked away in Jeffrey Steingarten’s December Vogue article on transportable gift foods was a delightful surprise: an Iowa connection! And an Owlfish Iowa connection, to boot!

Steingarten lists several artisanal outfits that sell cured and other gourmet meats, including one called La Quercia, about which he says:

The best prosciutto you can find in this country, imported or domestic, is made in … Iowa!

Iowa is the self-proclaimed Pork Capital of the US, and the headquarters of the National Pork Producers’ Council, so its not too far a stretch to imagine that it might produce the best prosciutto as well.

The real surprise came in the sentence that followed:

Herb Eckhouse spent five years figuring out what the best Italian producers do and adopting their methods to create Prosciutto Americano, … which Herb and his wife Kathy have been making and selling for about a year.

Herb Eckhouse? I thought. I know that name! The Eckhouses are old Owlfish family friends!

I remember playing badminton in their yard when I was twelve. And when I spent a long-ago summer in Berkeley, studying Arabic for the first time, Umm Owlfish put me in touch with Kathy Eckhouse’s mother. She invited me to several fantastic dinner parties at her house up in the Berkeley hills, each of which involved delicious food and great rollicking waves of wide-ranging conversation.

My father always says: everyone has an Iowa story. Most of them, of course, only involve driving through Iowa on the way to somewhere else :-). I’m so glad that Vogue‘s Iowa story makes the state a destination.

Posted in Americans, childhood, food, friends, home, Iowa, Italy, prosciutto | 3 Comments »