SYRIA

Survival recipes from Syrian rebels under siege

 Thanks to an agreement between the Syrian regime and the opposition, hundreds of Syrian rebels are set to be evacuated from the old city of Homs, which has been under siege by the regular army. Rebels and civilians alike have been starved after a two-year-long blockade of the city, which has forced them to subsist on olives and herbs for months at a time. To fight against this food shortage, a Homs rebel named Abou Omar has created clever recipes with unusual products, and has been sharing these recipes on social networks. 

Advertising

A grasshopper dish suggested on the “Siege meals” Facebook page created by a Homs rebel.

 

Thanks to an agreement between the Syrian regime and the opposition, hundreds of Syrian rebels are set to be evacuated from the old city of Homs, which has been under siege by the regular army. Rebels and civilians alike have been starved after a two-year-long blockade of the city, which has forced them to subsist on olives and herbs for months at a time. To fight against this food shortage, a Homs rebel named Abou Omar has created clever recipes with unusual products, and has been sharing these recipes on social networks.

 

The Facebook page called “Siege meals” provides recipe ideas for besieged rebels in Homs. The recipes are based on turtle, insect, and bird meat, as well as henna powder and various plants.

 

A fig leaf-based ragout. “Make sure to carefully peel the leaves in order to remove their bitter taste”, counsels Abou Omar on his Facebook page.

Abou Omar, the administrator of the Facebook page, was an engineering student prior to joining the Syrian opposition. He lives in Bab Houd, a besieged neighbourhood in Homs.

  

Food has become increasingly rare over the last few months. When meat and dairy products completely vanished from the shelves, we started only eating vegetables. Then, lentils and peas disappeared, so some friends and I started planting our own food.

 

A dish named the “resistance manakish” [manakish is a type of Syrian bread].

 

There was a time when we could still buy rice and bulgur in the market, but it was very expensive. A bag of rice could cost up to 15,000 pounds [72 euros], twice its normal rate. But over the last few months, even rice has disappeared, and there is basically nothing left to buy on the black market.

 

Some of my colleagues and I realised we could still stave off hunger thanks to the various herbs and plants still available. We also realised we could eat certain types of animals. For instance, I started concocting recipes with bird and turtle meat – which is actually quite good, given the circumstances. Then I posted pictures and comments to help out other fighters in the same situation as me. That said, I have never eaten or cooked cat or frog meat, because that is against our religion. But I’ve been told that some residents became so desperate that they even ate dog meat!

 

“We eat turtle meat because this is allowed by Islam”.

 

My colleagues and I have been taking turns to look for products that will allow us to cook our “alternative” meals. We also pick some of the herbs that grow on the sidewalks, as well as tree leaves. We have also figured out how to transform certain plant materials, like coriander and pomegranate seeds, into a dough of sorts that allows us to bake bread.

 

We created this page not to whine or generate pity, but rather to express that, despite this terrible siege we are suffering, we are happy and grateful to God because our cause is just.