What a mess. And the conversations I have vary, hugely. My Jewish friends abhor Hamas, and back Israel in killing women and children. They shouldn’t use them as shields, they say. The people should be in the tunnels not the weapons. No one says anything about Syria. I hear familiar voices on the radio phone-in, aghast as Palestinian flags are run up city flag-poles, others not so blinded to the plight of the people of Palestine.
Others will fly a banner with the DEC phone number as a contribution that barely registers on the protest scale. Money, that’s what the West can provide. And aid from the UK is hiked up, all the way to a trifling o.1% of the funds generated in arming Israel, providing them with the hardware to continue the carnage. We cannot ignore the wrongs of the past, but the evils of today are another thing altogether.
Remember this is all done in the name of The One God/Allah, the one worshipped by the three Abrahamic faiths. If such a beast existed would he not be looking down on the mess of Jerusalem and wonder what was this Hell of His Creation, done in His name? He must be a tortured soul at what we have become.
So it’s easy to put some money into the aid find. Action Aid are doing some good work. And we can watch it unfold on the BBC, who my friends will say are anti-Israel, the rest complaining they are very much for the Israelites. This is the same broadcaster that completely ignored the horrors of Cast Lead, the blockade of ports and much more beyond. They’ll take criticism from both sides, wrongly, as evidence that they must be getting it right.
But I prefer the words of Craig Murray these days, the Ambassador whose principle meant he couldn’t ignore our role in rendition and torture. And he keeps an eye on matters in the Middle East; much more so, it seems, than our much vaunted and Gof-Fearing Peace Envoy, but don’t get me started on that one.
So as the carnage continues, and as conversations become difficult, let’s turn to Jerusalem, and find a recipe, an old Palestinian one, and set an offering on the table. Let me give you Poached Chicken with sweet spiced freekeh, coming soon on this table.
First the ingredients – 1 small chicken, free-range of course; 2 cinnamon sticks; 2 carrots, peeled and sliced; 2 bay leaves; 2 bunches flat-leaf parsley; 2 onions; 2tbsp olive oil (remembering the Palestinians have lost their ancient family trees); 300g cracked freekeh; 1/2 tsp allspice; 1/2 tsp coriander; 40g unsalted butter; 60g flaked almonds; salt & black pepper.
Place chicken in large pot, with cinnamon, carrots, bay leaves, 1 bunch parsley and 1 tsp salt. Quarter one onion and add to pot. Cover, almost, with cold water, bring to boil and simmer, covered for one hour, skimming froth occasionally.
Halfway through cooking slice second onion and place in medium saucepan with olive oil. Fry over low heat for 15 mins, until golden brown and soft. Add freekeh, allspice, coriander, 1/2 tsp salt and black pepper. Stir well, add 600ml of the chicken broth. Turn up the heat. As soon as stock boils, cover and reduce heat, simmering for 20 mins. Remove from heat and leave covered for 20 mins more.
Remove leaves from parsley and chop, roughly. Add most to the freekeh, mixing in with fork.
Lift the chicken from the broth and place on cutting board. Carve off the breasts and slice thinly, at an angle; remove meat from legs and thighs. Keep chicken and freekeh warm.
When ready to serve place the butter , almonds and salt in frying pan and fry until golden. Spoon the freekeh onto individual serving dishes or one big platter. Top with leg and thigh then arrange the breast slices neatly on top. Finish with almonds and butter and a sprinkle of parsley. Invite friends to share.
So Jewish chef and a Palestinian recipe, what could be wrong with that? Now I’m off to buy a chicken and see if my local middle eastern store(?) have any freekeh – a wonderful smoked green cracked wheat – if not maftoul or bulgar will do, but reduced stock and cooking for bulgar. I’ll let you know how it turns out.