even though i have lived in Britain nearly all my life so far, i was never deprived of the wonders of Libyan cuisine.
my parents, especially my mother made sure that we new our cultural food, anyone who came from Libya to visit would bring back a bag full of spices, food, even sweets and chocolate manufactured and produced by Libya, i would get my never ending supply of henna with the lasga (sticky stencil) as a child i loved henna, i still do i just don't have the time to apply it any more. i remember my grandmother when she came over would mix the henna into a paste for me and she would add cool things like shahee 7amar (red tea) and lemons and all sorts, and then after applying it on my hand, she would get cloth and rap it around to preserve it, then put my hand in plastic bags and i would sleep like that, kinda like a boxer sleeping with his gloves, then i would wake up so early to unravel the cloth and peel the henna off and it would be sheer magic to see the patterns and colour on my hand, ooooooooh child hood memories :)
my brother would run a mile because he hated the smell, my favourite past time would be to corner him and then stuff my hand in his face, ha ha ha, he didnt find it funny.
when i went to Libya for the first time, i went to visit my dads aunts and uncles in Misrata (city not far from Triploi)i wanted Henna on my hands and and feet and when i asked for it there was shock through out the room and my aunt informed me that non married girls never put henna on their feet!!!!!!!
i didn't understand, and i was so disappointed but at least i got my hands done :)
so we grew up eating the likes of zameeta (a mix of whole grain barley, sweet cumin, sugar, olive oil) which me and my brothers loved, my mum will still do zameeta for us, she makes it healthy now by not putting any sugar in and instead putting dates which is interesting (my father is a diabetic so the house is sugar free as much as possible), my youngest brother had some sort of phobia of zameeta when he was a baby really was funny to watch and we would continuously scare him loool.
it was always amazing to open these bags that came from Libya, i always loved the smell, i came to associate it with Libya, and when my grand mother would come to visit she would smell like Libya :)
coffman i began this blog entry because of your question concerning cinnamon or girfa which is my favourite spice, so niceeeeeeee, and my intention was to blog about my favourite hot drink sa7lab or sahlab or sehlap as the Turks would spell it.
we would always have a supply of spices as well as sahlab which is a fine powder mix from wheat or something, if any ones please let me know exactly what its from because our sahlab is different to the sahlab from the other Arab countries, theres is made from the dried root of orchis mascula, and it tastes different.
with Libyans we either cook it with water or milk, but it tastes a thousand time better with milk, and then you top it off with ground nuts and cinnamon, wow its a taste out of this world, coffman i invite you to taste it :)it is a winter drink and for ages i used to always annoy my mum to make it for me until i learnt how to do it myself.
when i went to Turkey, the weather was still cold so sehlab was on the menu ever where, my non Arab friends with me where adamant that it was hot drinkable custard, which i have to admit Turkish sahlab does taste like custard.
any way that was my dedication of a blog about the wonders of sahlab and henna :@)