Bedouin hospitality near Mitzpe Ramon
by Itai Harary on 06/19/14
Today I had the pleasure of taking a family from the U.S. to visit Salman - a good friend from a Bedouin village close to Mitzpe Ramon - in his tent. Salman, who has been living there for about 30 years and is the head of his village, offers an authentic experience in the tent where he lives with his family (8 children) - v-e-r-y different from the common "Bedouin hospitality" which most tourists encounter in Israel.
Salman welcomed us with a hot and very sweet cup of tea, and another one, and another one... while we were sipping, he told us a bit about his life in the desert as a child, he shared his thoughts about modern education in comparison to camel-herding "education", and told us about the conflicts between the Bedouin culture and the modern state.
While talking, Salaman was kneading a ball of dough which would soon be placed in the ashes of the fire that boiled our tea, on it's way to becoming our bread for lunch. Every few minutes Salman would cover the flat, circular piece of dough with some more ashes and bang on it. By the sound of the hardening dough Salman can tell when the bread is ready. A true master!
When the music's right, the bread (which the Bedouins call "libbe") is taken out of the ashes and is pounded on a hard, clean surface - a rock, or a tree trunk would do... this is done to remove the ashes off the thick, crispy crust of the libbe.
Like pitta bread, the Bedouins use the libbe as an edible eating utensil, so we did too, dipping it and scooping with it all of the amazing salads and dips Salman's wife (Chalima) prepared for us. The libbe really came out good this time. Salman knew it and was proud of the results. His smile says it all...
Lunch time is for everybody, even if you're a camel...