Aley Chubeza #296, July 4th-6th 2016

jam-a

Music and Camaraderie:

The Chubeza family is invited to a musical jam session and weekly get-together at the Gonenim-Mekor Haim “Book Stop” on the Mesila Park. Here’s your chance to make beautiful music together, smile, and get to know your neighbors. The jam session will be directed by the musicians of “Project Intro,” and each week we will host musicians from various Jewish and Palestinian community centers.

We invite parents and their children, students, grandparents, uncles and aunts to join the celebration. Bring your musical instruments and get ready to play!

5 PM – 6 PM: Arts & crafts activity

Refreshments, compliments of “Barakevet”

Every Monday between 5 PM – 8 PM at the Mesila Park “Book Stop” (behind Mekor Haim 48, near the Rami Levi Supermarket)

Free of charge!

Come join the fun!

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cornsky

KING CORN

For the past few weeks, your boxes have contained the king of summer, his royal highness the corn. Every year it accompanies us from June to November, joins us while we bid the schoolyear farewell, enjoys our summer vacation and then goes back to school with us, come fall. In essence, the corn crop begins to ripen when the weather turns warm but still has an occasional breezy day, moves headlong into the intolerable heat of July-August and the heatwaves of September, breathes a sigh of relief in October, makes certain that moderate weather has returned, and only then says goodbye in November. Now that’s what I call a king!

This week, American citizens celebrated the independence of their homeland, the Birthplace of Corn, so in everyone’s honor, we shall sing a song of praise to the sweet, yellow cob!

Corn is probably one of the first crops the Americans learned to grow. Approximately 7,000 years ago, some gleaners (probably women) noticed a spontaneous mutant among the weeds, a teosinte, with a cob that was longer and filled with seeds that were larger than your average ancient weed. Something sparked their intuition, and they tasted it – to their great delight. They also discovered that seeds which fell to the ground sprouted and became a mature plant that yielded more cobs. After some time, they learned that if they kept the better seeds and planted them, the next crop would be even more improved!

At the next stage, they (no longer gleaners, but now also farmers) discovered that if they grow corn, beans and squash, they could actually make a decent basic diet out of them. The plants also grew well together: the corn acted as a supporting pole for the bean to climb upon, and the squash grew on the earth as live mulch, preventing weeds and keeping moisture in. This proved to be so time-efficient that it gave the people enough spare moments to build houses, weave rugs and baskets, develop astronomy and math, and of course- party…

To your left is the olden corn, and to your right is its current cultured form:

Today, corn is one of the only plants which cannot reproduce without a human helping hand, as it requires the planting of separate seeds in order for the plant to sprout.

In various languages, corn was granted venerable names. The first to bring corn to Europe were the Spanish, and they gave it a name from the native Taino: mahis in Taino, maize in Spanish. The meaning in Taino is “the seed that gives life.” The Latin name continued this theme, calling it Zea (life giver) mays.

Only when the wonder vegetable emigrated to Europe did it receive its dull, listless name “corn” that was a generic name for grains (even salt grains, hence “corned beef”), and the derogatory titles “Turkey wheat,” “Turkey/Egyptian corn,” or “Indian corn.” Apparently they were not referring to the origins of the grain, but rather making a social comment that this was an uncultivated, wild, barbaric grain, as compared to “polite” cultured European grains. The Hebrew name tiras was given based on the English Turkey corn. The word tiras is mentioned in the Bible in the books of Genesis and Chronicles. Tiras was Jefeth’s seventh son (Noah’s grandson). Scholars identified Tiras as the father of the Turkish nation (Tractate Yoma), which is why the “Turkish” grain was granted this name.

Its lackluster name certainly does not reflect the sweet, positive nature of this wonderful grain, upon which the world of South American natives was once so dependent. And perhaps the come-down of the name from “life giving” to “wild grain” somewhat reflects the devaluation of this outstanding plant in the western world.

American natives used corn in various manners: eating it fresh or cooked, drying the cob and grinding it into flour, pounding the fresh grains to produce polenta- a wet corn porridge; decorating the house with colorful strings of corn, fashioning cornhusk dolls, popping it for popcorn, feeding animals the cobs, etc. All parts of the corn had advantages and uses: using corn stalks for building, fishing, etc.; the corn “beard” was used as a medicinal herb to cure kidney ailments, and the cornhusks were used to weave mats and baskets and create masks, moccasins and dolls.

Today, too, we are dependent upon corn in every realm, especially food: Almost every processed food contains corn, but of a very limited genetically-engineered variety that appears in its processed, worn and abused form, totally bereft of nutritional value and, of course, a product which demands an excessive exertion of energy.

We use corn starch for thickening and gluing, and corn syrup for sweetening. Expansion materials, emulsifiers, food coloring, citric acid— all are derived from corn, as well as most of the animal fodder in the meat industry. Corn also serves a role in the production of plastic and oil. (Those who wish to learn more about corn and food in our world are highly recommended to read Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma.)

But for all its many uses, there is nothing like simply sinking your teeth into a fresh ear of corn. There are those who do not trust the Kashrut of corn. They fear that tiny insects lying within the corn silk will find their way into the kernels, becoming impossible to detect and remove.  Dror, one of our loyal deliverymen, recently told me that he heard from a “Sunfrost” mashgiach (kashruth supervisor) how to deal with this matter. According to him, the bugs run towards the cob when they are exposed to light, as the corn is peeled and its silk removed. The solution is simple and creative: peel the corn in the dark! This way, the bugs remain in the silk and get tossed to the compost. You are more than welcome to try this out at home…

Enjoy!

And somewhat late, but forever timely: Happy Birthday to Talya Seligman, our website queen, who celebrated her 40th birthday last week. Here’s wishing you all the best in the world!

A good week to us all and a joyous Eid al-Fitr to Mohammed, Ali and Majdi. May we enjoy the month of Tammuz and summer vacation!

Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Yochai and the entire Chubeza team

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WHAT’S JOINING KING CORN IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Lettuce, parsley/coriander, tomatoes, cucumbers/fakus, zucchini, eggplant, watermelon/melon, New Zealand spinach/Swiss chard, corn, Amoro squash. Small boxes only: onions.

Large box, in addition: Acorn squash, Thai lubia (yard long baens)/cherry tomatoes, nana mint/basil, potatoes.

Wednesday: Lettuce, parsley/ nana mint/basil, New Zealand spinach/Swiss chard, tomatoes, cucumbers/fakus, zucchini, potatoes,  Amoro squash/slice of Provence pumpkin, corn, watermelon/melon. small boxes: cherry tomatoes/eggplants.

Large box, in addition: Thai lubia (yard long baens)/cherry tomatoes/okra, eggplants, onions. acorn squash.