In Defense of Local Butchery

The first time I visited an actual butcher — the kind not inside a grocery store — was when I lived in Aleppo. I was 24. It took traveling halfway around the world to watch a professional meticulously break down an animal. It was both horrifying and intriguing. There were meat carcasses hanging around me while I struck up a conversation with Yasser, the head butcher, over a cup of freshly brewed Turkish coffee. It was such a surreal experience that I wrote about it on my blog. The irony, of course, is that this approach to butchery is much closer to the actual source of meat than anything we’re used to finding at a grocery store.

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The Syrian Hospitality Waltz

Note: I wrote this post for the IIE Fulbright Blog about my Fulbright experience in Syria.

Lost, I strolled up to a middle-aged gentleman standing a few feet beside me who was leisurely munching on a bag of peanuts. I cleared my throat as I approached him. “Marhaba,” “hello,” I said in my peculiar Arabic accent. As the man turned to me, I asked if he could point me in the direction of the market.

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Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

I hope everyone has a happy new year and a wonderful start to 2011.

Right before Christmas I went on a chilly, but pleasant, one-week vacation to Prague and Geneva. It was beautiful. Prague is like a fairytale come Christmas, and Geneva, well… I spent most of my time in Geneva worrying whether I’ll get stuck because of the blizzard. Their chocolate, however, is top-notch.

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Feast of sacrifice, Eid al Adha in Aleppo

Sparkling lights, lively chatter, crisp air; Eid is the general term for holiday in Arabic. In the days leading to Eid al Adha shops in Aleppo stay open past midnight to meet the demands of eager shoppers rushing to purchase Eid gifts.

Eid al Adha, or the feast of sacrifice, is the holiday that commemorates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his only son, Ishmael, to God. Before sacrificing his son, God intervenes and allows Abraham to sacrifice a ram instead. Eid al Adha spans four days and begins approximately 70 days after Eid al Fitr, the holiday that celebrates the end of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting. This year Eid al Adha began on November 16, 2010.

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