Sansour knows she can’t completely transform local farming methods, but she hopes to help preserve at least some of this traditionally cultivated land so that future generations can have a point of reference to see what their biological heritage looks like and can work to keep it alive. “I hope we can continue to work this land, really our hands are on our hearts when we talk about it, and I’m sorry because I’m worried,” Sansour said.
Seeds aren’t the only thing Sansour saves. In order to preserve Palestinian recipes that use traditional foods, Sansour created the traveling kitchen, which is hand-built from wood and can be packed in a car.
In one of his pop-up kitchen events, Sansour made riqaq or addas, a pasta and lentil dish topped with a sour sauce of wild picked sumac berries. Sansour also likes the Battiri baitinjan, the Battir eggplant, which she uses to make mahshi mutabal. To make this variation of the traditional mutabal, the eggplant is roasted over a hot flame until charred, then sliced down its center to be stuffed with garlic and fresh herbs, including za’atar, a wild herb from the thyme family, picked in the mountains. A mixture of lemon juice and tahini made from sesame seeds traditionally grown in the north is drizzled just before serving.
The traveling kitchen allows people to come together to share and preserve stories. The elders who come to share a meal often evoke the names of plants that Sansour has never heard of. These interactions begin a new cycle of falling in love with a story – as she did with Abu Samra nutty-tasting wheat (meaning “black and beautiful”) – and pursuing another variety of lost inheritance, seeking until she finds a last remaining one. seeds to replant, collect and store.
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