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Lebanese Clay Pots


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Paula Wolfert was kind enough to take a picture of the clay pots she recently received from a friend of hers in Lebanon. With her permission I am posting the picture and the comments that her friend emailed to her about them.

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" first left upper row: "jorn toum", a mortar for garlic, from the beautiful mountain village of beit chabeb. Lots of stone houses and red roof tiles, and a

special terra cotta factory/ The food is still cooked in the pots made in the region in an old wooden oven/ They also make jars for stocking olive oil and arak, and some clay dishes are used for serving bean salad or even larger ones to prepare kechek (by the way I was there 2 days ago to buy an olive oil jar for my mother because she just broke the old

family one ... and we still do provision of olive oil for a year or two,

that we stock in her cave in terra cotta jars)

- middle rows: up and down and left down: 3 pieces from Assia, a mountain village in Batroun area, known for its old white mulberry trees, which were used to feed silk worms for silk production and latter in summer to feed the sheep. women used to fatten them up just like the French do for foie gras.

These examples of pottery are special because not only are they hand made, but made without a wheel. There is no glazing and they are very fragile; so the first time you must wipe them well, then sweep them with a little vegetable oil, and put them in an oven (not so hot ... temperature # 1 or better heat it then cut the fire and put them) for more than an hour. The round one is used for stew cooking on fire and the oval one for oven cooking.

On the right: up and down: both are from "jisr el qadi" (meaning the bridge of the judge, or the one who passed) a village under old pine trees in the green Chouf region. This is one of the last pottery workshops still working well. Both are glazed. Up is an "eedreh" or kedreh, a bowl used to prepare yogurt, from hot milk and ferment. It exists in different sizes, traditionally bigger than what you have, as a family size.

Down on the right is a "meqleh", a frying pan used to fry only eggs; I think you know how to prepare them for cooking as you already tried that one out.

For serving meghli I think the best is to serve it in a round or oval assia pot.

Traditionally meghli was served in individual servings, in poor houses in tea

cups, and richer in small glass bowls. but when taken as a gift for neighbor and friends, it was poured in big plates like these.”

Thanks For sharing Paula,

Elie

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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Wow. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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  • 6 months later...

I thought I'd seen a thread around here about seasoning clay cookware, but I can't find it now, so I'll post in this thread. My Egyptian unglazed terra cotta pots (tagines, but not in the Moroccan sense of having covers) look a lot like the lower-left pot in the picture Elie reposted: unglazed open bowls of varying sizes. Our Egyptian friends said they had to be seasoned by wiping with "black honey", i.e. molasses, and cooked in a hot oven, before use. We've done that but not been entirely satisfied with the results: it looks strange, the clay pot taste still comes through. Given our respective communicating skills it's entirely possible something was lost in the translation. Paula mentioned wiping with vegetable oil and baking in the oven. Would that work as well as, or better then, the molasses trick? Did we miss something?

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

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"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)
"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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I never heard about using molasses to season claypots but that doesn't mean it isn't the prescribed method to cure your pot. It all depends on the type of clay used in Egypt. Usually, one seasons a pot with oil, or vinegar and water, or just water.

I purchased a pot in Turkey that broke apart in my hands after soaking it for an hour in water. I learned too late that I was supposed to oil it , bake it for many hours in the oven, wash it and dry it before oiling it once again. Afterwards, no problem adding liquid or washing it..

The photographed pots from Lebanon had been cured for me. They're unglazed, strong and do not taste of clay. They go on top of the stove or in the oven. I don't do anything to them but wash them with baking soda and warm water. I never soak them.

“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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I have a frying pan and a big pot that I think is supposed to be for cooking beans but which I use for yogurt. We used to buy all our clay stuff from a guy near our house -- though he used a wheel. I loved going there as a kid. My mom explained to him how to make a strawberry pot (the one with the little balconies for holding offshoots...) I think he had a hip little business going with those by the time we left. People liked them for spider plants. Somehow shopping for planters at walmart just isn't as fun.

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I never heard about using molasses to season claypots but that doesn't mean it isn't the prescribed method to cure your pot. It all depends on the type of clay used in Egypt. Usually, one seasons a  pot with oil, or vinegar and water, or just  water.

I purchased a pot in Turkey that broke apart in my hands after soaking it for an hour in water. I learned too late that I was supposed to oil it , bake it for many hours in the oven, wash it and dry it before oiling it once again. Afterwards, no problem adding liquid or washing it..

The photographed pots from Lebanon had been cured for me. They're  unglazed, strong and do not taste of clay. They go on top of the stove or in the oven. I don't do anything to them but wash them with baking soda and warm water. I never soak them.

Hmm, sounds as though I'd best stick with the technique I was told, unless I can bring back a bunch of them and experiment.

I hadn't heard about washing the cookware with baking soda and water. Thank you for that! It sounds much better than the detergent I've been using, albeit sparingly. Even using very little detergent, I worry that I'll remove the seasoning and get detergent into the pores.

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

Follow us on social media! Facebook; instagram.com/egulletx; twitter.com/egullet

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)
"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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