House of Stone by Anthony Shadid

House of Stone by Anthony Shadid

Author:Anthony Shadid [Shadid, Anthony]
Language: eng
Format: epub, mobi
Tags: cookie429, Kat, Extratorrents
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Published: 0101-01-01T00:00:00+00:00

A few days after my visit to the basement workshop, I joined Dr. Khairalla in his kitchen. He had offered to teach me how to make awarma, cooked mutton mixed with the preservative of melted fat and salt. Awarma is a Turkish word, he told me, and the dish was prepared before winter, when neither butchers nor meat was available, especially in more remote locales like Marjayoun. Even without a refrigerator, the dish can last for months. Often it is cooked with eggs or kishk, a powdery cereal of cracked wheat known as burghul that is fermented with milk and yogurt and prepared in the fall after the wheat is harvested. It is a centuries-old tradition. “Nowadays,” the doctor told me, “it’s a delicacy.”

Dr. Khairalla unsheathed a knife whose oak handle he had crafted. The blade came from a garage lever, a hint of ingenuity that I could tell made him proud.

The three kilograms of meat, a glistening red, were the shade of cooked beets. He dumped the sheep’s fat into a pot, which Ivanka thought was the wrong size. She was assertive and ironic, and he was still charmed by her, finding humor in her needling. Not enough, though, to heed her advice. “He thinks everything he does is perfect, but there’s nothing perfect. There’s no perfection except God,” she said, smiling.

“Now we start,” he announced, and ignited the flame of the stove.

“I think there will be war in the region,” he said abruptly, as the fat heated. Perched on a nearby window, his cats, Pussy and Pokhto (Bulgarian for a small bushy beard), nibbled on meat scraps. “It’s very depressing. We manage to finish with one war, and we always end up starting another.” There was no pity in his voice. His words were sincere, spoken by someone whose life had been shaped by war and the flight from it.

Ivanka interrupted. “It will take a little while still,” she said, her voice certain. “That’s my experience with war. The weather has to get a little warmer first.”

“I’m not a fanatic Christian. I don’t go to church. I respect all religions,” he said, as if about to offer an unpleasant diagnosis. “But from what I see now, in thirty years, there won’t be any Christians left here.”

The television was on. The news bar scrolled with reports of more clashes between rival factions in Beirut. I was so tired of the anticipation, the dread of yet another conflict.

“It’s not in our hands to stop it,” Dr. Khairalla told me.

The fat had begun to melt. Dr. Khairalla took a spoon of it and put it in a wire mesh strainer placed over another pot, then pressed until the liquefied fat dripped into the pot. The smell was pungent, meaty, but staler, a bit distasteful.

He told me an Arabic maxim: “The poet can do what others can’t.” It was a gesture to the place that poets had in the culture of Arabs, as dissidents and polemicists, foretellers and historians, provocateurs and hagiographers. To Dr.


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