My Friend is a Palestinian Bedouin:  XIV. Meals and Other Celebrations

My Friend is a Palestinian Bedouin: XIV. Meals and Other Celebrations


Meals are a kind of daily celebrations. Bashar had many meals with my family and I had many meals together with his family or with his friends. I like to eat with them. Since both food and table manners are highly dissimilar in our cultures, we needed to learn anew how to eat (in each other’s cultures).

Snack bars, from which both Bashar and I liked to eat as described above, were introduced in the Netherlands long before the concept of “fast food” infested the Western world. Many Dutch snack-bars have walls of heated coin-operated hatches, with goodies, croquettes being among the most popular (White & Boucke, 2006). No snack bars in Bedouin culture. Food is homemade and always excessive. One of my favorite dishes is “maqluba”, a Palestinian upside-down rice and eggplant casserole, hence the name which is literally translated as “upside-down”. It is sometimes made with fried cauliflower instead of eggplant and usually includes meat, often braised lamb (Maqluba, 2011). No meal is served without bread. Bread is so central, that Bashar, like many a Bedouin, would feel that if at a meal there was no bread, something crucial was lacking. This could be compared with the experience of people from other cultures as regarding the centrality of certain ingredients in a meal, such as salt, spices, or rice.

Among the Palestinian Bedouins, hot meals are eaten between noon and midnight. Food is often served on an enormous platter. Everyone present is invited. This could also be the neighbor or the client in the garage, if the workers happen to eat at that time. There are no fixed seats and anything that can function as a table for the food will work out. For large groups, food platters may be placed on the floor. One not necessarily starts or finishes the meal at the same time. People eat from the main platter and diners usually do not have their own plate. People mostly take the food with their hands, though they may have a fork or a spoon. They use pieces of pita bread in a manner in which Europeans or Northern Americans would use a fork. Knives are rarely utilized. Food is usually served in one course. At the end of a meal, there may be large quantities of food left. After dinner hand brewed Bedouin coffee and/or tea will be offered


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Daniel WeishutDaniel J.N. Weishut, born in the Netherlands but living in Jerusalem, is a professional with a diverse background. He holds an MA in Clinical Psychology and an MBA in Integrative Business Administration, both from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and a PsyD in Clinical and Organizational Psychology from the Professional School of Psychology (Sacramento). He has about thirty years of experience in consultation and therapy with a wide variety of clients and issues, more than twenty years of practice in group facilitation, and over fifteen years of know-how in governance and management in various organizations.Daniel Weishut offers his services as a "Partner on the Way", while taking a world-view that people are diverse but equal. He works with a variety of clients, but his special interest is in work with those who have found themselves persecuted or otherwise in conflict with their social environment, because of their culture, identity or belief system. For example: migrants, expats, refugees, Holocaust survivors, soldiers, pacifists, and individuals from religious, cultural or sexual minorities. Daniel Weishut is a social activist and in this capacity he volunteers as Chairperson of the Israeli Association of Group Psychotherapy, as Member of the Membership Appeals Committee of Amnesty International and as forensic expert for the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel. He also is involved in raising awareness about the situation of Bedouins around Jerusalem; awareness which led among others to the writing of his dissertation "My friend is a Palestinian Bedouin: Challenges and opportunities in intercultural friendship".

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