Smile and Say……”H” is for HALLOUMI


I guess you can figure out my theme for the 2014 A to Z Blogging Challenge. That’s right, it’s cheese!  I hope you enjoy these posts!

“H” is for HALLOUMI

Grilled Halloumi cheese.
Grilled Halloumi cheese.

Something a little different today. Halloumi is mostly made from goat’s and sheep’s milk, and originated in Cyprus. Its texture is similar to that of mozzarella or thick feta, except that it has a strong, salty flavor from a brine preserve. When you cook Halloumi, the saltiness is removed and the cheese is very creamy.

Halloumi is an essential part of a Cyprus Meze and often offered in warm weather, as an accompaniment to watermelon and cold beer. The photo above is grilled Halloumi. It also can be fried, or sliced into a salad. To grill it, just slice into 1/2-inch thick slices, brush with olive oil, and grill for a few minutes on each side. The outside will be crispy and the inside will be soft and melted. Enjoy your meal with gladness and health!

Guitar? Quitter? Oh, QATAR!

Ask me what I know about Qatar. Wait, what do you know about Qatar? Can you even pronounce it? Most folks in America, if they’re aware of the small, oblong country nestled between Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, would say “KUH-tar.” The correct pronunciation is actually something between “gutter” and “cutter.”

Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar, a woman of South Asian birth and north Florida upbringing, has lived in Qatar for over seven years. She is married to an American of Lao-Thai ancestry. I mention their ethnicities because her collection of essays, FROM DUNES TO DIOR, explores the challenges of a South Asian woman living in the Arabian Gulf.

She writes with alacrity about the amusing dichotomies in Qatari life. People “gorging on McDonald’s and fasting during Ramadan.”  “Flashing Gucci shoes in bags but covering [their] hair.” And “driving…Toyota Landcruisers or another SUV because gas costs 36 cents a liter.”

I, like most of the Americans Dr. Rajakumar encountered, knew nothing about Qatar, but I devoured these essays with the same enthusiasm she held for her chocolate Dunkin’ Donuts munchkins (yes, even in Qatar, the ubiquitous DD thrives).

FROM DUNES TO DIOR is an easy read, but a compelling one also. The author’s insight and commentary on the old-fashioned ideas of ethnicity and ancestry are relevant to everyone, and the assumptions and misunderstandings between “us” and “them” should bring pause to the reader.