Laban accompanies most meals and is known in the West as yogurt. While properly made laban carries several nutrients, the yogurt available in most places in the West has been usurped and appropriated; of all Arabic foods commonly available, laban has been the most altered, and not in any positive way. Here, sugar and fruit are routinely added to yogurt, and it is usually made from such a weak culture that important nutrients are gone. That made it a good choice for this section focussing on the ways Arabs are silenced, made invisible, and appropriated. Keep in mind that this recipe is the way our grandmothers made it.
1/2 gallon milk
1-2 T roube (yogurt culture for starter)
Simmer milk until it rises and becomes frothy, stirring frequently so it does not scorch. Bring it almost to a boil, but do not boil. Immediately remove from heat. Cool until you can put your baby finger in and count to 10. Add roube that you have smoothed out in a saucer. Stir in thoroughly; immediately pour into a crock with a lid. Sito, Mom, or Dad would always make the sign of the cross over the laban to bless it and insure that it comes out. Place crock in a warm spot wrapped in several blankets where it can remain warm and undisturbed for 6-12 hours while the bacterial action happens and the milk is converted into yogurt. Let it sit overnight if made in the evening, or, if made in the morning, leave it all day. It's as though a special magic happens transforming the milk into laban. Refrigerate and remember to save a little of this batch as roube for the next batch.
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: Food for Our Grandmothers:Writings by Arab-American and Arab-Canadian Feminists. Contributors: Joanna Kadi - Editor. Publisher: South End Press. Place of publication: Boston. Publication year: 1994. Page number: 147.
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