Have you ever heard of forced party?. As I get more and more busy with my business and daughter’s activities, I lament the days gone by when my mom had her Istekbal. Growing up in Syria, I used to tease my mom about her Istekbal. She use to tell me that was a way for her and her friends to force themselves to have at least couple hours a week to get together, visit, eat, laugh and relax.
Istekbal, is a tradition that started about 200 years ago in Damascus when men and women did not socialize together. My mother and her women friends liked the freedom of not having men in this special meeting. They inforced the” No Male Zone “even though they mixed and socialized as couples on other occasions.
Each woman would have a designated day in the month to have her friends and relatives visit her. For my mom it was the first Monday of each month. She would chase my dad to the coffee shop, and order my brothers to go to there room or visit friends.
The hostess of the day would have wide variety of savory appetizers, salads and sweets. The guests were served apricot juice with rose water and pine nuts, hot black tea, and Turkish coffee. The visit could last 3 hours. The ladies would dance, sings, comfort each other and of course gossip. Talk about total therapy.
This spread is similar to one that my mom used to make except I make it finer and more spicy.
Black Olive and Jalapeño Spread
2 cups pitted kalamata olives
2 cups salted shelled pistachio
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/4 lemon, chopped with the skin
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon oregano
-Place the olives, the pistachio, the scallions, the red pepper, the lemon and the jalapeno in a food processor and using the on and off bottom coarsely chop.
-Add the oregano, the lemon juice and the olive oil and process until finely chopped paste.
-Serve this spread with sliced tomato, good bread for great healthy breakfast. Spoon couple spoons over a salad for color, taste and texture. If you still have some left, mix it with cream cheese or Labneh –drained yogurt– and you get new spread.