Burning wood crackles in a wood-fired oven, or taboun, behind the house of Nabila Qishta in the southern border town of Rafah.
She has returned to this traditional way of baking white, round loaves of bread – a staple of the Middle Eastern diet – because of the constant shortages of gas in Gaza.
“It is good we kept this knowledge alive,” observes the housewife, an accomplished cook whose recipes are featured in The Gaza Kitchen.
Qishta and her son, Khaled, an unemployed engineer who used to work overseas, built the oven with clay that had been thrown away by smugglers digging a tunnel.
“Life’s difficulties make us more creative and resourceful,” Qishta says. “We have a saying: ‘Poverty makes miracles happen.'”
The taboun provides a means of cooking without gas. But what do people do when there is no wood? “We use paper or cardboard boxes,” explains Khaled.
“When we were desperate, some people in Gaza even used discarded car oil to cook with but I don’t recommend that. The smell is very bad,” he adds.
I ask Qishta how she feels about Western readers of the cookbook trying to recreate her favourite food.
“It’s a strange thought,” she laughs. “But I think they will like it. We enjoy good food in Gaza and in Palestine.”
The full article is here.