Home-grown Wheat.

 

I finally learned how to prepare our own wheat for making into flour. It was not as difficult as I thought it would be. Listening to Omar it sounded like quite a production but it took a half an hour to clean and a few hours to dry! 2014-09-25 09.36.56

This was the wheat which we grew last year and which the family ended up with most of, as usual! I wanted my own grain as we had paid for it and produced it. I was tired of having to be a beggar when we provide it all! Ludicrous. So we brought a large bag upstairs to the flat and I washed enough to keep us going in bread for a couple of months.

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This entailed rinsing the wheat through a large sieve to get the soil out. Omar told me to wash it all in our plastic laundry bin but this didn’t remove the soil so I used our sieve instead. It took longer but was much more efficient.

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Once I had washed enough I laid it all out on a sheet on our bedroom floor, under the fan, to dry. Omar came in and said it needed to be in the sun. I didn’t agree. My father owned a corn factory when I was a child and he used drying machines to dry it. I was pretty sure that if I left the warm air coming in through the window to be circulated with the overhead fan, that it would dry well enough for the mill! It did! Omar took it later that evening to the local mill and picked it up the following day. 2014-09-25 11.29.23

When he came back he was thrilled. He said that the miller had commented that the woman who prepared this wheat did a brilliant job, that it was exactly as it should be. The flour was fine and good enough for cakes. The removed wheat bran/germ was also as it was supposed to be. The miller was also a little surprised as the wheat they normally got from our house was way too dry. Here, the women wash it and put it in the hot sun to dry, which leaves it hard, dry and brittle. The bran that is removed is then used for a base to place the rising dough on so that it doesn’t stick. They don’t actually eat it!Needless to say Omar didn’t mention that his wife had done it. He takes the credit for all my work! God forbid a woman should be smarter or more successful. Egyptian men!

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Omar was so pleased with the flour that he took some down to his mother for approval/competition. Never a good move. I knew it was only a matter of time before there would be consequences for bragging!

That came yesterday. It is the big feast in a couple of days and the women all traditionally make Fiteer. a thin flat bread baked in the oven. It is Fiteer when it is thin and crispy, but Grus when slightly thicker, and layered with oil! However, they had stored their flour badly and beetles had gotten into it, so they wanted some of mine! Every time they are careless with their food and they know I have some, they will just ask me, or rather Omar, who then gives it to them. I was not happy. Normally, when their flour has beetles they sieve them out, so what was different about today? The difference was they knew I had good flour!

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Like a ‘good wife’ I gave them a week’s worth of flour, and told them how to store it so that it didn’t get ants or beetles in it. Why am I, an Irish woman, telling Egyptian women how to store flour they have been storing for  years – badly? Don’t they know this stuff already?

Later on Omar told me that the wife in question had complained that the flour I had given them was not enough so they mixed it with the other flour, which they sieved to get the beetles out, as they normally do! I told Omar that never again is he going to brag about anything that I produce because these women are just downright ungrateful for everything!

I am glad though that I learned how to prepare our own wheat, because when we do have our own place I will know how to do this stuff. However, now we have to keep everything quiet when we do something well, or get anything new.  If we don’t, they demand it all and then ‘send me to Coventry’ if they don’t get it. Personally I’d rather be in Coventry. Its a lot more peaceful there, but it does make me feel sad that they take us so much for granted. These dynamics can make it a pretty lonely place to be.

Crazymakers.

2014-04-03 17.22.35Yesterday we got back our sack of freshly ground wheat, which I had cleaned the day before for the mill. It was lovely and fine and the miller was impressed with how clean it was. (I’ll write that process up in another blog). I should have felt overjoyed, after all Omar grew the wheat, harvested it by hand, and brought back more bags than all of his neighbours. But I felt completely flat! I had no sense of achievement, or pleasure in eating something baked by flour we had grown and processed ourselves.

Back in England, after spending a full day in the garden growing veges, with my friend Chris, I would go to bed at night feeling absolutely and completely satisfied. The feeling came from the knowledge that we were taking care of some of our nutritional needs, rather than depending on the supermarkets. Growing food gives me a feeling which no other activity on earth gives me. It is completely satisfying and nourishing to my soul. DSC_1674The fact that the work in the garden went hand in hand with the knowledge that we were creating an energy-space made a huge difference too. Every plant had its purpose, and was important to the over-all energy.

Here, I never get that feeling. The men grow things, not the women. The men will grow stuff for the women, but they can choose to remove it if they want to grow something else, and the women have no choice about it.

But that is only half of the problem. I spent all night, and most of this morning, thinking about why I feel so dead inside, when we have produced our own food. Some of it is because I personally have not grown it, and have no real part in it, except for financial, and doing the energywork in the field. I have not had the pleasure of planting the seed and nurturing it to maturity, then of the harvest.

The biggest part of it though, I realised, the part that is really important, is that it is not safe to enjoy, or take pride, in anything here. My time here has shown me, that to achieve anything good means to incur the jealousy and envy of everyone. People here are afraid to be proud of themselves, to pat themselves on the back, or to enjoy anything, because they are constantly having to protect what they have created from other people’s bad eyes, or atrocious behaviour! People with money lie about it, and pretend to be poor, because to show you have money means there is someone who is willing to take it away from you, by force if necessary!

DSCN9566I noticed too, that once they started eating the ducks, which we had raised, that I cut off from them to an extent. I stopped enjoying their play in the water. I used to watch them for ages. Now I feed them and fill their bath but cannot afford to enjoy them, because I know that they won’t be with us for long.

This ‘emotional cutting off’ thing started when I was a young teenager growing up in an equally abusive environment in southern Spain in the 70’s. The Spanish people were so abusive to animals, and to each other, that as a young girl I found it impossible to understand it. I was abused too for those two years, so between the abusive boys, and the animals, my only protection was to cut off my emotionally. Every time I did open up and love an animal I lost it, which caused even more pain. The same thing applied to relationships!

Living here in Luxor is like re-living my childhood in Spain, only this time I try to change it and heal it. I knew that coming here would open up old wounds but it is difficult to heal those wounds when people are behaving the same way as they did in my youth! I still find the behaviour hard to manage emotionally, but I try to change it and fight in a way that I couldn’t when I was young. But I cannot change the beliefs of an entire society!

Life here could be so much better if people enjoyed each other’s successes instead of trying to destroy them!