Food

The Jerusalem Post Magazine - - CONTENTS - Photos: PASCALE PEREZ-RU­BIN and NADAV ARIEL

MY SON and DAUGH­TER-IN-LAW’S HENNA

Iwas so ex­cited when my son’s Ukrainian-Amer­i­can fi­ancée asked me to hold a henna cer­e­mony for the two of them be­fore their wed­ding. When I got mar­ried, my mother pre­pared a tra­di­tional henna cer­e­mony for me at home. She sewed me a spe­cial out­fit and pre­pared all the tra­di­tional Tu­nisian del­i­ca­cies for our fe­male friends and fam­ily mem­bers. In mod­ern-day Is­rael, Ye­menite and In­dian com­mu­ni­ties still hold tra­di­tional henna cer­e­monies, but most Is­raelis are happy to fol­low gen­eral Moroc­can cus­toms with­out wor­ry­ing about their fam­ily’s spe­cific tra­di­tions. And so, when I set out to be­gin plan­ning the party with all the tra­di­tional Tu­nisian cus­toms, this did not prove to be an easy task.

I found nu­mer­ous com­pa­nies and in­di­vid­u­als whose busi­nesses or­ga­nize hen­nas, in­clud­ing in­tri­cate head cov­er­ings for the bride, out­fits for all the fam­ily and guests, and of course food. But I was not in­ter­ested in a grandiose event with lots of glit­ter and noise. I wanted to find some­one who could help me recre­ate an au­then­tic Tu­nisian henna. I met with dozens of henna or­ga­niz­ers, but it wasn’t un­til I came upon Rachel Uzan from Moshav Beit Ha­gadi that I felt as­sured I would be able to give my son and his wife-to-be a proper Tu­nisian henna.

Uzan dis­played for me a shiny beau­ti­ful hand-sewn out­fit with strips of golden fiber run­ning through it. The heavy head cov­er­ing was cov­ered with gold coins and chains, and there were pointy gold shoes to match. I was head over heels ex­cited to have fi­nally found the per­fect per­son to or­ga­nize our henna, and when Uzan told me she could also pre­pare tra­di­tional Tu­nisian food for the event, I knew I’d hit the jack­pot. We also hired Ye­hu­dit Enoshi from Ne­tanya to pro­vide more out­fits and to di­rect the cer­e­mony in real time dur­ing the party.

My next task was to find a caterer to pre­pare tra­di­tional Tu­nisian brik sand­wiches, and we were very lucky to chance upon Rami Madar from Ashkelon. We pre­pared bowls of the wet henna mix­ture, which were car­ried in dur­ing the cer­e­mony in fancy bowls, with four lit can­dles stuck in­side them. Our guests were in­vited to don cos­tumes, too, and the at­mos­phere at the henna was won­der­fully happy.

The bride and groom sat on throne-like chairs, and guests would place coins on a scarf that was laid out over their laps, while of­fer­ing them wishes of good luck and hap­pi­ness in their up­com­ing betrothal.

Next was the ac­tual henna cer­e­mony, where ev­ery­one puts a bit of wet henna mix­ture in their palm.

The re­fresh­ments were su­perb – ex­actly as I imag­ined them to be. The Tu­nisian fric­as­see sand­wiches were spicy with harissa, and there was plenty of arak and rosetta to drink. There were sfinj dough­nuts cov­ered with sugar and end­less cook­ies that re­sem­bled jew­elry pre­pared by Orli Bar­naz from Bat Yam.

Be­low I’ve in­cluded recipes for de­blah pas­tries in syrup, brik pas­tries stuffed with egg, and fric­as­see sand­wiches.

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• PASCALE PEREZ-RU­BIN

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