Some people possess the unique ability to stand up to the breakneck pace of time, to carve out of few moments a day to appreciate life. My friend Yasmeen is one of those people. Through cheerful smiles, sincere conversations, and thoughtful meals, Yasmeen makes those around her feel appreciated. This past Friday she set aside a few hours to teach me the art of slowing time through one of her favorite recipes. As a member of a large family, Yasmeen uses cooking to bring everyone together around one table. Dumah, a traditional Palestinian breakfast dish, is one of her family’s favorites.
During the school year, Yasmeen’s domain is the greenroom. While her official title is seamstress, but Yasmeen takes care of a lot more than costumes. At the first sneeze of flu season, she stocks up on throat coat and hand sanitizer. If an actor or technician has a bad show, she’s there with open arms, and if anyone skipped lunch she’s ready with baked goods, pasta salad, or fruit to revive them. This summer Yasmeen is in charge of costumes for the Summer Shakespeare production of “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” which will be performed outside as an environmental play. Even though that means she will not have her green room, Yasmeen still continues to help out beyond the sewing machine.
As I watched her cook (an activity I’m not very used to), she explained to me the traditions of Palestinian hospitality. “While you wait for the main dish, you have tea, but while you wait for the tea to brew, you have juice. Once you’re done with the tea you have fruit, and then pita with za’atar spices. Then you have the main dish, and after that more fruit.” Although we didn’t follow all of the steps of this process, she did brew us some gunpowder tea while we waited.
Our meal, and the dishes in it, was relatively simple: pita, dumah, olive oil, and za’atar. However, the time we spent together, cooking and eating, made it an extraordinary meal. I hope to follow Yasmeen’s example in my last summer before college, to chisel out special moments and not pay attention to the hands of the clock.
2 cans of tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 red onion, cut into big chunks
1 clove of garlic, minced
3 tbsp olive oil
Cumin, salt, and pepper to taste
In a large skillet or wok, sauté the onions in the olive oil until they’re tender. Add in garlic, tomatoes, and seasonings. Continue cooking until the tomatoes are soft and fully cooked. Serve with pita.