Apricot jam was a special treat; I could have developed a liking to it because I watched older women in the family making it. The process was fascinating.  I don’t remember the sequence or the entire process, however, I remember walking into the kitchen to find my paternal aunt (Ameh Mokhlesah) wearing her cooking head scarf (meant to keep hair out of the food), standing over a large pot of boiling liquid, stirring away with a large wooden spoon; white face shining from the steam, cheeks rosy from the heat rising from the pot.

In season, balconies, and garage roof-tops would fill with large pans of the golden orange substance, basking in the sun.  I also remember my great uncle’s wife (Um Bashar) sitting on a small straw stool, pouring the ready jam into glass jars saved from previous years. After she filled all the jars, she allowed me to clean off the pan, wiping it with a piece of bread and eating it. As I did that, she would cover the jam jars with a piece of cloth, tying another around the jar rim for a tight seal.

When a family member visited and gifted us a jam jar, I knew they loved and appreciated us. To give a gift so precious, something they labored over for days, had to mean we were special and we had to show gratitude in return.

Still more on food.. stay tuned..