Monday 18 January 2010
16 February 2010, from Falafel King to eat at Maramia Cafe
Leaving Falafel king in protest of using Israeli produces and walking to eat in Maramia
The Taste of Palestine
48 Goldborne Road
Jewish/Israeli Falafel eaterie
274 Portobello Road
North Kensington, London, W10 5TE
The women’s action meal
This was a truly great meal. First of all, we found our way to deal with giving ourselves the task of going to Falafel King, another Israeli falafel place. We decided that we shall meet there, but only take a picture outside and ‘march’ to the Palestinian Maramia café instead. Our first ‘action’ - made in order to reflect our affiliation with the boycott on Israeli goods. Alas, it was a rainy day and we arrived late, very rainy day, grey and miserable. By the time we got to Falafel King, Vanessa, Rachel and Carole already were into their falafels. Edd and the others joined us and we stepped out and took a picture. On the way to Maramia, Vanessa explained how she saw that all the cans of drinks were from Israel, since they had Hebrew writing on them. The music was also Israeli, although not militant like in Pita, but more nostalgic for another time in Israel, the 1980s, for the secular leftists, a time when there was still hope for peace, a kind of new age vibe in the place. Vanessa telling us about the Israeli produce made us feel very good about stepping out, taking a picture and walking to Maramia. It was a cold and a wet walk, and no one really understood what we are doing, since it was hard to explain in the rain, but upon arrival it all made sense, a table was set for us, it was warm and the food was divine. We finally got to eat typical Palestinian dishes, Mussakhan and Maqluba, Maqluba (مقلوبة) is Arabic for "upside-down," it is like up side down Paella, with crispy rice sides. The food was totally delicious, especially the humus and the Maqluba. The falafel was very refined and green inside with a lot of spice, but all recipes were kept a secret from us☺. The owner is from Gaza and came over 8 years ago, he is planning to return to Palestine in a few months, though to Ramallah as his house in Gaza was destroyed in the last war on Gaza by Israel in January 2009. He was so friendly and talkative with us, and genuinely wanted to know how his food rated. Not much competition there, his falafel is in competition with Slemani, which is currently our favourite. When we asked him our leading question – did Israel steel the falafel from the Palestinians he said, that not just the falafel but their lives, houses, and their land. His chef said that Israel can have the falafel if it wants it so badly, since they have after all taken everything else from the Palestinians.
The conversation on the diverse table was very animated and fascinating, perhaps the fact that it is so hard to write about is an indication to how complex and rich it was. We voiced our concerns again and were met with a great deal of reassurance that indeed artists always hit this wall, when one feels that it is simply not enough, and that there must be other ways to bring about change. They all felt that the residency will have effects in the longer run, and it does in the short run, more than we can imagine. There were also suggestions that we ask people in the meals to contribute, so that they feel part of it. Vanessa suggested that we leave people a sheet of information on what they can do, like how to keep the boycott. Carole said that she will help us with the press! And everyone promised to leave a comment in the blog. Edd was saying how it had affected him, in that, he decided to learn more about the situation and others said that they now joined Palestine Solidarity campaign. We asked Rachel Lichtenstein who is a writer, artist and a psychogeographer (with Iain Sinclair from Rodinsky's Room, 1999 and On Brick Lane, 2007) about all the stuff that does not make it to the printed text, like with our blog, and she said that it is part of the process. Her observation was that we have been pushing ourselves too much for a long time now in our artistic and political quest to ‘save Palestine’ (like in our graphic novel) and that we are making ourselves sick. Sick of falafel. Sick of each other. Sick of art, sick of everything. It resonated true to our ears. Vanessa said that her daughter of 18 has read the book to her friends, and being of extremely mixed parentage she felt that she looked like Larissa, and hence must be looking like a Palestinian which made her happy.
Maqluba and chicken midway