Author Archives: Kahniley Sangare

Recipe – Lebanon

The Recipe for “Grape Leaves”

Subject’s Analysis:

“It was passed down to my grandmother from her nanny. Her nanny is Lebanesse and only speaks Arabic. It’s made mostly for family gatherings for any big family occasion or holiday. The outer leaves are actual grape leaves. They are stuffed with lamb and beef. They are mixed with some spice which is called (tries to spell it) “Burroh” I think its spelled. There is also a lemony butter sauce that is poured over them as well. They are usually stuffed with ground meat that is put into the leaves and rolled. Then you place the rolled leaves into a pot with a little water, and steam them on the stove. After they are steamed, they lemony butter sauce is poured over them. They are also good cold.”

She said, “Me I love them, they’re my favorite food really. I feel that it’s really authentic. I’ve also heard of them being Greek but they are stuffed with something else.”

Collector’s Analysis:

I think that personally, this dish sounds delicious. It may have been an instance of monogenesis, and diffusion as both Lebanon and Greece are in the Mediterranean. So it is very possible that the recipes are similar, and that they are stuffed with different meats. Maybe they were stuffed with different meat based solely on what was available in the area that the food was being prepared. Both places had grape leaves so the recipe was easy to make. I hypothesize that once people became accustomed to cooking them with certain meat it is quite possible that the geographical differences in the recipes stuck.

I did some research on the origin of these two different recipes. About.com has an article on Dolmathakia me Kima or stuffed grape leaves with meat and rice. Recipezaar.com has a recipe listed as Lebanese Grape Leaves. Both dishes are served with sides of rice, and as well are used as an appetizer. In addition both dishes include the use of lemon juice as an important seasoning that is added. The main difference however is the meat that the two separate dishes are stuffed with. The Lebanese version is stuffed with ground lamb, and the Greek version is stuffed with ground beef. In addition, on the online versions, there are interesting spices that are listed. In the Greek version a tablespoon of fresh mint is supposed to be used, while in the Lebanese version, a half tablespoon of cinnamon is used.  Considering the similarities, this dish could have very likely been a product of monogenesis and diffusion throughout the Mediterranean.

CathyV.com. “Lebanese Grape Leaves.” recipezaar.com. Dec. 2007.  31 Apr. 2008 <http://www.recipezaar.com/?21001>.

Gaifyllia, Nancy. “Dolmathakia me Kima: Stuffed Grape Leaves with Meat & Rice.” about.com. Jan. 2008.  31 Apr. 2008 <http://greekfood.about.com/?od/?appetizerssalads/?r/?leavesmeatrice.htm>.

Festival

Dia De Los Muertos

“It takes place between the evening of October 31st and the morning of November 1st. What you do is set out the favorite items, favorite foods, and a picture of the deceased. You could also put out religious items, or items that have sentimental value to the person. A critical part of it is that the spirits of the deceased are supposed to come back during this time period. It’s normal for the family to come over the evening of November 1st to talk about the person. Stories, memories, and it’s also an opportunity for the children who didn’t know the person to get to learn about them. It’s about keeping yourself connected to your past. I enjoy it because it gives me an idea of where my mother came from.”

Subject’s Analysis:

Collector’s Analysis:

I think that Dia de los Muertos is a great idea for a holiday. I appreciate this holiday because it is about respecting your ancestors, essentially. In addition the holiday teaches people not to fear death, but rather to embrace it, and to respect those that came before you. The only part of the holiday that I find slightly disturbing is the fact that the spirit of the deceased are supposed to come back. That scares me.

This holiday could be analyzed by the time of year that it falls during and how that is related to the holiday. During that time period, Late October early November, things are beginning to die off, and there lies a  relation to death. If you look at the year in terms of the human life cycle, by the time that November comes around the year is in the later part of its life, thus another connection to death.

This example also comes up in “Of Corpse” which confirms the principals of the holiday that Melissa described. The book goes further in depth to describe the loose connection between the Catholic Church and the holiday. As well the book further details the rituals that take place. (202)

Congdon, Kristin, and Peter Narvaez. Of Corpse. Logan, UT: Utah State University
Press, 2003.

Proverb – Jamaica

“Greedy chokes puppy.”

Subject’s Analysis:

I received this entry from my grandmother. She is Jamaican, and she grew up on the island. She learned this saying from my great-grandmother. She says that as a little girl growing up in Jamaica people would use this saying all the time. She says that it means that if you try to take too much you wont swallow it. She says that it is also a metaphor for greed in everyday life.

Collector’s Analysis:

I agree wholly with my grandmother’s analysis. I think that the saying is pretty self explanatory. It could be taken literally or figuratively. Extended into a proper sentence it could be written as, “A greedy puppy will choke”. This proverb could easily be related to the popular proverb, “Don’t bite off more than you can chew”, which is also a reference to greed. Both proverbs lead to the overall meaning that greed in any aspect of life will lead to eventual, sometimes painful downfall.

Why the proverb refers to a puppy is something of a mystery however. But having been to Jamaica and seeing how the dogs are treated I have some idea. The dogs there are less pet than wild animal. They aren’t pampered as they are in the states. When feeding our house guard dog Judo, I noticed that he was fed entirely table scraps (old oatmeal, chicken bones, veggies, greens, bread, apple cores, ect) in an old white bucket. With such a rough diet a greedy dog could easily choke, as I suspect many have. This is my hypothesis on the phrase.

Hand Signal

“There’s a hand signal that we do. Basically, it’s an Alpha sign. Your thumb and pinky finger are extended, the others are curled in.”

Subject’s Analysis:

“It has a secret meaning that is undisclosed to the public. The meaning is only disclosed to the members of the frat. Minority college students can readily identify the sign with the Alpha Phi Alpha Organization. I learned it from older frat members. It’s a nationwide signal. It’s usually readily identifiable by black Greeks (black frat and sorority members). When posing for pictures, or trying to flag someone down on a college campus, we do it. It’s also meant to identify yourself as Alpha, it’s a privilege that you earn through pledging. I was happy to finally be able to do it.”

Collector’s Analysis:

The hand signals that African-American fraternities, and sororities do are very special to them. Each of the Divine Nine (the 9 major African-American fraternities/sororities) has their own hand signal. These are displayed mostly when they get together, and on a regular basis as a greeting. I agree with Jeremiah that the sign is easily identifiable, as are those of the other groups. I think that it’s good that they have something that identifies them as part of an organization that they worked very hard to be a part of. It should be noted as well that anyone who is not a member of the black Greek community, and mimics their hand signals, is asking for trouble. That is horribly taboo in the black Greek community.

Superstition – Belize

“Depending on which one of your hands is itching, you will either get money or give money away.”

Subject’s Analysis:

Suzanne told me this one while laughing and calling it ridiculous. She said, “It’s so stupid some of the things that my parents believe in.” She doesn’t believe in this superstition. Like many other habits/superstitions that she has learned, she acquired this one during childhood, from her Belizean parents. She also added that as the superstition goes, if you itch the itch then the omen becomes null and void.

Collector’s Analysis:

I think that this superstition is not true in the slightest. However, how would I know? Who doesn’t scratch their itches just on reflex alone? When something itches it is only natural to scratch it immediately, as a matter of comfort, even while asleep people itch themselves. This suggests that it is merely subconscious. I wouldn’t know if this ite is true or not because I have never actually tested it.

I think that this superstition deals with the worlds stigmatism of left vs. right. According to a wikipedia article about “Right-handedness” somewhere between 70-90% of the world is right handed. The ariticle goes on to note that, “ The left hand is used in times of inauspiciousness, as a sign of disrespect, and for wiping oneself after using the bathroom. In Islam as well, one is required to use the left hand for tasks such as wiping oneself after using the bathroom, and the right hand for eating.” In addition the word “right” also has positive connotations, and can be used to reply to something in the affirmative. So it is only right that a culture with a stigmatism towards things that are “right” would believe that the right hand brings in money(good), and the left hand loses money(bad).

Citations:

“Right-handedness” wikipedia.org. 14 apr. 2008. 30 Apr. 2008. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right -handed>.

“Muslim Restroom Etiquette.” Truthandgrace.com. Jan 2002. 30 Apr. 2008.

<http://truthandgrace.com/muslimrestrooms.htm>.

Joke/Riddle/Blason Populaire

Question: “How do you hide something from a black person?”

Answer: “Put it in a book.”

Subject’s Analysis:

“It’s funny and embarrassing because it’s true to the stereotypical extent. I learned this joke watching a movie, I think. It was when I was in my teens, I believe it was a progressive movie, like a satire. I don’t feel comfortable repeating it around other races or demographic, most black people don’t.”

Collector’s Analysis:

Being a member of the African American community, I have mixed feelings about this entry. I feel that it is untrue of me, however, I know of others who do not read frequently if at all. As we discussed in class though, jokes like this can become a self fulfilling prophecy. The more that people joke about blacks being uneducated and illiterate, the more that the community will feel that it is okay to be such. So while I felt that this joke was slightly humorous, overall I don’t think that it is very funny, it is supposed to have that effect for black people I think. If Jeremiah saw it in a conscious movie, then it was intended to illicit shame from blacks who were watching, and possibly encourage change.

Saying/Terminology

“The Kitchen”

“If you’re black and have hair on the back of your neck that is not properly cared for it becomes knotted an tangled. The terminology for this is ‘the kitchen’. I heard this from my mother at a young age when she was doing my older sister’s hair. I think that it’s stupid, personally.”

Subject’s Analysis:

Bryson said this with a tone of cynicism in his voice. He seemed to be somewhat annoyed with the terminology. I think this is because of the fact that he doesn’t have long hair on the back of his neck, and thus he doesn’t have to worry about “the kitchen”. He learned this term while growing up in Sacramento as a child, and when asked what he thinks of it, he replied, “I think that it’s stupid, personally.”

Collector’s Analysis:

I feel that he is simply disgruntled by the fact that people have come up for a term for the hair on black peoples necks, and the fact that it may have connotations to other words such as “nappy” that draw attention to what may be seen as flaws with the African- American physique. In addition I think that the word is meant for exclusive use amongst African-Americans because they are the folk that it applies to. Therefore people outside of the group will not know what it means, nor will they use it.  As well I feel that “the kitchen” is simply a new age euphemism that in this case replaces the word nappy in the African-American vocabulary. What I am confused about it the reason why the hair would be called “the kitchen” because its similarities to an actual kitchen are very sparse.

Folk Medicine – Belize

Limes for Body Odor

“In order to get rid of armpit body odor, you use warmed lime juice. Take a lime, cut it in half, heat it up face down in a frying pan until it sizzles. When the face of the lime has browned a little, rub it under your armpits, then shower, and it gets rid of unpleasant body odor.”

Subject’s Analysis:

Suzanne dictated this entry to me with a straight face. She told me very calmly that this was a serious folk remedy for removal of body odor. She noted that this was specifically the type of body odor that was not easily removed by deodorant, or simple showering. She suggested that by taking this lime and applying it, you could eradicate strong body odor. This was a Belizean remedy that she learned during her childhood, at age 10 or 11. She was taught this process by her mother.  She said that she has tried it and it has worked.

Collector’s Analysis:

I think that this folk remedy sounds very reasonable. I believe that this remedy might work. However, what makes it folk medicine is that this claim has yet to be scientifically proven even though it is confirmed by some who have tried it. What makes this method even more believable is the fact that lime scented cleaners are commonplace in the world today, suggesting that somewhere along the line the power of lime to neutralize odors was revealed as a truth. This is also feasible because if the fact that limes have a strong fresh scent that would be able to mask body odor if not eliminate it,, when paired with a good shower.

What makes this claim unbelievable is that in order for the remedy to work, the subject must take a shower after using the lime to get rid of the body odor. So this brings into question whether the lime has any effect at all or if the shower is the determining factor of the treatment.

Recipe – Jamaican

Rice and Peas

Ingredients:

1 cup dried beans (red or kidney beans)

1 lb. rice (brown or white based on preference)

1 onion (yellow)

1 teaspoon of salt

1 can of cocoanut milk

1 stick of dried thyme

“Soak the dried beans preferably overnight or for a couple of hours. Throw away the water. Put the beans in a pot, and add cold water to them. Then cover the pot, and bring the water to a boil. Add cocoanut milk to the beans. Cook the beans until they become tender. Slice the onions into quarters and add into the pot along with the salt and the dried thyme. Add the dry rice as well. There should be enough water to cover the rice half way. To check the water level, you can put your finger in the pot and the water should be up to your second joint. Bring the pot to a boil, then cover the pot, and let it simmer until the water has evaporated. Check the rice, if it’s still hard you can add a little bit more water and let it cook longer.”

This dish is usually served with meat or fish.

Subject’s Analysis:

“It’s an old favorite Jamaican dish. My mother taught me how to make it, when I was young. This is a meal that can be used on a daily basis. In the old days people cooked it for Sunday dinner.”

Collector’s Analysis:

I have had this meal several times, and it is simply delicious. In addition it can be served with many side dishes, and is relatively easy to make. This dish is not only a Jamican thing, I have eaten very similar foods in the homes of Caribbean friends of mine. My grandmother noted that the dish used to be prepared for Sunday dinners, and this was because of the fact that Sunday is the Sabbath, and in traditional Christian fait this is supposed to be a day of peace and leisure. What better way to relax, than to eat a large tasty meal? While this dish is prepared sometimes for Sunday dinner, the dish is also very popular for family gatherings, and is almost always served at Caribbean parties.

Proverb/Riddle

“If there is a skunk in a room and a man walks in, and they both come out, who would come out smelling like who?”

Subject’s Analysis:

“It’s a riddle that I learned from my grandfather. He repeated it a lot during childhood. The riddle goes, ‘If there is a skunk in a room and a man walks in, and they both come out, who would come out smelling like whom?’ The obvious answer is that the man would smell like the skunk. It correlates to a verse in second Corinthians in the Bible. It means that associations ruin useful habits. What he was trying to get at was that if you are associating with people who don’t have good habits, or who believe in something that is different from your beliefs, then it can undo your understanding of right and wrong.”

Collector’s Analysis:

I’m not sure about the correlation to Corinthians in the bible, as the subject was unable to locate the exact verse. However, in essence the proverb is essentially about the company that you keep can have a strong influence. This says that if you are in bad company then bad company will have a poor  affect on you. While I understand that because she has heard the story firsthand it has special meaning to her, I don’t see where she extracted some of the meaning from. I feel that the meaning may be more general than she is making it.