I was privileged to stay with the Samara family in Bil’im, a village in occupied West Bank of Palestine. It is a village surrounded by olive orchards, vineyards, family gardens, and grazing lands on which goats and sheep are grazed. I was fortunate to be able to see Mr. Samara’s daughter-in-law prepare Haloumi, a Palestinian White Cheese almost always served with breakfast.
If you need a primer course on how to make cheese, see in information in the “Related” section below.
1 gallon milk
1/4 cup fresh active yogurt
1/2 tablet rennet
2 oz. Kosher salt
1.5 gallon stainless steel pot, thick bottom
Large white handkerchief, boiled
3 quart plastic tub with lid
6) Cover again, let the curds sit to firm up for 10 min.
The people of this brave village stand as an example to the world of how non-violent resistance can successfully resist injustice and military might. Israel has been confiscating all “unoccupied” Palestinian land. Israel defines “unoccupied” as any land on which no occupied structure exists. Thus, olive orchards, vineyards, agricultural land, grazing land are all being confiscated. These ancient Bil’im olive orchards, lovingly tended for many centuries (see the terracing in the picture below) are all officially “unoccupied.”
Young men of the Samara family with which I stayed, including Walied Samara (right) who taught me several new steps to the Debki–the national dance of Palestine. THANK YOU Walied–I loved the dancing!
Ohrid is a lovely gem of a town located near the border of Albania. It hosts a famous music/arts festival in the summer. It possesses an ancient fortress and a Roman theater. Ohrid’s pedestrian way ends at a beautiful waterfront.
Bitola, in southern Macedonia, is home to our wonderful cheese making friend Nicolce. He gave us the grand tour which included Macedonian dancing with a live band, with some beautiful and talented young women from a local performance group.
The stoves for sale on the streets of Bitola are used to grill paprika peppers to prepare them for winter storage.
These pictures were taken during a whirlwind ten days traversing through Macedonia from Istanbul to Durres Albania, then by ferry across to Bari Italy, and train to Roma.
We will have MUCH more to say about our experiences, but I must first say that we continue to be impressed and gratified at the hospitality and generosity of people we meet around the world. Macedonians have a rich cultural history and have done well at preserving it.
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