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Free Egypt, Eat Ful

by Rob Eshman

January 28, 2011 | 12:34 pm

Here’s one little clue I had that the uprising in Egypt had legs. What started as a street protest now looks like it may become a revolution.  Back on Tuesday morning, when the first Tweets started coming out of Cairo, one in particular caught my eye:

Fast food shops around Tahir Square are giving out free food for protesters!

What that meant to me was that the middle class was behind the protest—it’s the middle class that owns those shops.  It mean the protest wasn’t led by Islamists, or Islamist at all—it was led by young, secular Egyptians who reminded shopkeepers of their own kids.  And it meant one more thing: The protesters and the people were in this for the long haul.

Tom Friedman has an old (and slightly discredited) rule that two countries with McDonalds never go to war against each other, since the democratic, stable conditions that make multinational fast food franchises mean the masses and leaders have a stake in stability and peace. Call what happened in Tahir Square is the Cairo Corollary: when fast food franchises start feeding the rioters instead of boarding up their windows, the political winds have clearly shifted.

So is it too early to celebrate the people in Egypt struggling for freedom?  Not for Foodaism.  Tonight, keep the Egyptian people close to your heart by making one of my favorite Egyptian dishes, Ful Muddamas.

Ful is fava or broad beans, and this is a common stew made with just a few ingredients.  If you’ve eaten in the hummus shops of Israel, chances are they plopped a bowl of this on your table: earthy fava beans baked or simmered until soft, blend with olive oil, garlic, cumin and lemon juice, and served with parsley and raw onion as condiments.

Make sure the ingredients are at their best: great olive oil is key, as is fresh garlic and lemon juice.  You can make this by using dried favas, soaking them overnight, then cooking until tender in a saucepan or oven casserole, then proceed with other ingredients.  But time is short until Shabbat, and it is still delciious using canned beans.  I wish I could show you a picture, but I’m blogging at 30,000 feet on a Virgin America flight.

Where, by the way, I ordered an eggplant, beet and goat cheese lavash—and it was shockingly good.

[RECIPE]Ful Muddames


Ingredients

3 cans Ful beans (available at Middle East and Kosher markets)
1 tbs Freshly ground cumin
6 Cloves garlic, crushed
4 Hard-boiled eggs; shelled
1 Handful EACH chopped fresh parsley, cilantro, mint
2 Quartered lemons
1 sweet onion, chopped
Great quality olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper and Salt

To Make:

Put beans in saucepan, cover with water by 2-3 inches.  Add the spices and garlic and eggs. Bring to boil and then simmer.  Caned beans will take 20 minutes.  Dried, soaked beans will take 2 or 3 hours. Put all other ingredients on the table.  When ful is soft and hot, but not completely mushy place in shallow bowl. Serve with cilantro, mint, lemon, and onion.. Slather with more olive oil, lemon juice, salt and cumin, along with warm pita. People can scoop up beans then add the condiments they want.

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