• Fair Trader

Flavours of Palestine

Updated: Jul 24, 2021

Taysir Arbasi
Taysir Arbasi

On Friday March 10th, the vibrant colours and stunning flavours of Palestinian cooking came to the Yorkshire Pennine village of Brockholes! Organised by Holmfirth-based Fair Trader, the event featured a Palestinian speaker and Palestinian Fairtrade meal.

Over fifty ticket holders listened to Palestinian community leader Taysir Arbasi of Zaytoun. He spoke movingly about how Fairtrade is helping hard-working Palestinian olive and almond farmers to find markets for their high-quality produce. He spoke of the complexities for farmers striving to nurture crops, with uncertain access to water and lands, within an environment under occupation.

The breathtaking scenery masks the everyday harsh reality for farmers and their families. Their way of life, now under threat, is embedded in Palestinian heritage and culture. Even the October school holidays are timetabled to allow children to join family groups to hand-pick the olives. Some residents may remember a time, not so long ago, when local school holidays were built around harvest time and potato picking!

In the West Bank, co-operatives of farmers work together to maximise efficiencies and create high quality Fairtrade products – olive oil, almonds, freekeh, maftoul dates and herb mix Za’atar.

Taysir’s powerful words echoed a people’s desire for dignity – for farmers and their families to gain a livelihood through trade not aid. Fairtrade builds a connection between farmers and consumers, and offers some hope to a beleaguered people. His words provided inspiration for us to promote Zaytoun products, and make a contribution to the farmers’ long-term financial and trading security.

Many of us enjoy a good quality of life and for us, choices abound. One such choice could surely be to support Zaytoun by telling their stories and buying the wonderful, high quality artisanal products. Fair Trader stocks Zaytoun Fairtrade olive oil (the first Fairtrade olive oil in the world), Zaytoun maftoul (a giant bulgur grain with a nutty flavour), Zaytoun freekeh (roasted green spring wheat for savoury and sweet dishes), Zaytoun Medjoul dates, almonds and za'atar (aromatic blend of herbs).

The talk was followed by a candle-lit evening meal, while listening to Palestinian songs by Reem Kelani. The menu was inspired by the book Palestine on a Plate by Joudie Kalla.

  • Warm chunky chickpeas with CUMIN, fresh coriander and pomegranate seeds, and flatbreads

  • FREEKEH, red peppers and aubergines with ZA’ATAR and tomatoes

  • Roasted sweet potatoes with a fresh ginger and CINNAMON dressing

  • CUMIN, lentils and RICE with caramelised onions

  • MAFTOUL with apricots and pistachios

  • Fennel and apple salad with maple syrup and OLIVE OIL dressing

  • FREEKEH, DATE and pistachio cake

  • Brownies drizzled with tahini – a surefire hit!

(Items in CAPITALS are available from Fair Trader.)

Drinks included Palestinian TAYBEH BEER (brewed by a lady brewer), juices, wines and also a wonderful Palestinian drink of fresh mint/ freshly squeezed orange juice/lemon juice/sugar and pomegranate molasses.

The original speakers on a SUSY UK speaker tour – Bassema Barahmeh and Lamis Zamzam – were at the 11th hour denied entry visas to the UK. Support the Visa campaigns #WhyNo Visa, #NoVisaNoTrade. We were disappointed not to meet them and do hope to see them in the UK at a future date.

SO… if each and every one of us ‘buys Zaytoun’, together we can make a difference.

Fair Trader ZAYTOUN PALESTINIAN HAMPERS – the prefect present. Available from our online shop.

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