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Thammer is Arabic for fruit, which is defined as the part of the plant that develops from the ovary of the flower and contains the seeds. This definition covers vegetables and nuts. Fakiha, however, is Arabic for delicious and joyful fruits, i.e. those fruits which are sweet and juicy and therefore, are fun to eat. Fakiha is derived from the verb to be happy, the same root for Fukaha, Arabic for comedy, which has the same effect on our souls.
Fakiha in Palestine is eaten fresh when raw, dried, candid, and cooked with sugar to make jams. No Palestinian home is without its jars of jams, which can be made of any fruit, sitting on the kitchen shelves, a good option for breakfast, and for pastry stuffing. The methods of making jams remain unchanged from olden days, boiling good firm fruits and cooking in basic syrup. Before the extraction of sugar, known to the east world for centuries, fruits were boiled in honey syrup and covered with olive oil to preserve. It was necessary to preserve allsorts of fruits, to consume later when out of season. However, due to the exposure to a cooking process, and due to the presence of sugar and acids, the taste is altered. Later, the new acquired taste became desired on its own merits, and hence, preserved Fakiha become a distinguished taste for every kitchen.
Candying, derived from the Arabic word, Qinnad, which refers to all sugar products, another old method of preserving fruits, is time-consuming but popular in all Syrian countries. It takes two weeks for the whole operation to complete.
The idea is to drain the juice of the fruit and to replace with syrup. Fruits are boiled in water until just tender, and drained. Syrup is made of the drained water by adding sugar and lemon juice, and is boiled for sugar to dissolve. Syrup is thickened gradually by adding some more sugar to it and boil every day, for several times. The addition of sugar increases in quantity every five days. Fruits are re-submerged in syrup every day after thickening the syrup. This process is repeated for several times, letting sugar completely impregnate the fruits. When fruits are completely candid, they are laid on a tray for a couple of days to dry.
The most prominent Fakiha in Palestine are the most original to the area, grapes, dates and figs, probably the eldest fruit trees of all. Palestine is actually known to be the land of olives and figs. the Palestinian say: in figs season baking is less. Fig is believed to be a fruit of heaven since it has no seeds.
It is said that every pomegranate has one seed that comes from heaven, although of Persian origin, is highly honorable in Jerusalem cooking. A part of being delicious to eat fresh, its juice is used for the preparations of dressing and sauces, and is made into molasses to preserve. Pomegranate adds a lovely taste to food if you like the sour effect.
Sabir, Arabic for patience, is the name of the cactus fruit. The cactus in Palestine often marks the borders of the village, as a fence, to prevent thieves and animals from entering.
Summer Fakiha is juicy and refreshing; watermelon in particular is highly consumed as it a good companion to cheese and labaneh, the most favorite food in summer. Palestinian say: in melon season, cooking becomes less.
Fakiha is also juiced to drink fresh or to cook in sugar to make syrups and molasses for preserving, for later to be made into drinks, slush, or sorbet. It is also used for cooking in sauces and dressings, for stuffing, and with rice and meats.
Grapes too are honorable amongst Fakiha, their juice, when unriped, is cooked with sugar, to use later. Grapes are dried into raisins and sultanas, which are used for making Jillab, a refreshing drink, when blended with water and lemon juice. In Hebron, the grape juice is cooked with sugar to make Dibbes. Also cooked with semolina and sugar until thick and then laid on a marble to form a sheet of Malbun when dry.
Grapes were also made into wine; the most honorable drink in old Arabia, before Islam and the argument wither its allowed or forbidden. The drink is repeated in old poetry more than any other drink with a whole culture surrounding it. Aljahith, a nineteenth century Arab writer, from Iraq, counts about eighty types of wine, he new of. He also has a long list of its characteristics and benefits. One of the Arab towns known for their wine brewing is Beisan, in Palestine.