Remix: Mohammad “Abu Ahmed” Adawi, Chef at ACOR (1968-present)

Here’s another chef’s story and another yummy looking recipe from the early days of the ASOR Blog. I haven’t tried this one myself yet but I’d love to know if anyone had made it at home or has any other recipes to share!

-Jen

Contributed by Sarah Harpending, American Center of Oriental Research

Mohammed “Abu Ahmed” Adawi has spent more than 40 years cooking for archaeologists in Jordan and Palestine. He began as a laborer at the dig in Jericho with Kathleen Kenyon in 1956. By 1960 he was cooking at ASOR in Jerusalem under then Head Chef Omar Jibrin. Abu Ahmed learned his basic techniques on the job, but he recalls that Omar could be secretive about his recipes.

Abu Ahmed preparing a Thanksgiving feast in 1982.

Abu Ahmed preparing a Thanksgiving feast in 1982.

He first served as a cook at an excavation site in 1961 when Paul Lapp invited him to cook at Iraq al-Amir in Jordan. Without previous experience cooking outdoors, he says he just copied what he had seen Omar doing at the center and it usually worked. While they didn’t have the equipment of a regular kitchen, he was able, using a primus stove, to prepare the traditional repertoire such as roast beef, roast chicken, and stews for the dig crews. The roasts he would brown in a pan, then add water and cover the dish, leaving it to finish ‘roasting’ slowly on low flame. Abu Ahmed noted that serving this kind of good simple food in the remote areas where they were digging really made people happy. Continue reading

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Ten Years after Iraq: Archaeology, Archaeologists, and U.S. Foreign Relations

KerselLuke_Fig4

Thirty-foot tall bronze sculptures of former Iraqi Saddam Hussein, sit on the grounds of the Republican Palace, in the International Zone (IZ) located in Central Baghdad, Iraq. (DoD photo by Jim Gordon, CIV)

By: Morag M. Kersel and Christina Luke

Ten years ago, in April of 2003, a coalition led by the United States invaded Iraq. This quickly toppled the Ba’athist regime of Saddam Hussein but also resulted in the loss of life, local unrest, displacement, and the ransacking of cultural institutions, archives, libraries, and the national museum in Baghdad. During that eventful month we both worked for the U.S. Department of State in the Cultural Heritage Center– Christina as a cultural property analyst and Morag as a contractor, administering the U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation.

In our daily work lives at State we knew that we were carrying out foreign policy initiatives under the guise of archaeology, but until April of 2003 and the unfolding events in Iraq we did not realize that all of the programming and initiatives we carried out at State, and much of our previous lives as archaeologists, was in the service of the state, under a paradigm of national bridge building and fence mending. While we do not wish to diminish the myriad devastating effects of war on humanity, as archaeologists we are also concerned with the consequences of war on cultural heritage. Continue reading

Protecting, Preserving, and Presenting Cultural Heritage in Petra: The Temple of the Winged Lions Cultural Resource Management Initiative

treasury, petra, tweissi

Figure 1: Petra’s most famous icon, the Al-Khazne (‘the Treasury’) tomb façade with tourist camel riders (Q. Tweissi).

By: Christopher A. Tuttle

Two hundred years ago, on 22 August 1812, the ancient city of Petra was re-identified by the Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, the first European on record to have visited the site since the 13thcentury. Word of his discovery quickly spread and other visitors soon followed in his footsteps—inaugurating a bicentennial of exploration and research at this amazing site located in what is today southern Jordan.

Petra served as the capitol city for the kingdom of Nabataea from at least the second century BCE until Trajan’s annexation of the region into the Roman Empire in 106 CE. Under Roman rule, the city retained its importance and became the administrative center for the new province of Arabia Petraea. Although heavily damaged by a major earthquake in May 363 CE, the city continued to play a significant role in the region during the Byzantine period when it served as an episcopal see of the Christian church. Continue reading

Mohammad “Abu Ahmed” Adawi, Chef at ACOR 1968-present

Contributed by Sarah Harpending, American Center of Oriental Research

Mohammed “Abu Ahmed” Adawi has spent more than 40 years cooking for archaeologists in Jordan and Palestine. He began as a laborer at the dig in Jericho with Kathleen Kenyon in 1956. By 1960 he was cooking at ASOR in Jerusalem under then Head Chef Omar Jibrin. Abu Ahmed learned his basic techniques on the job, but he recalls that Omar could be secretive about his recipes.

Abu Ahmed preparing a Thanksgiving feast in 1982.

Abu Ahmed preparing a Thanksgiving feast in 1982.

He first served as a cook at an excavation site in 1961 when Paul Lapp invited him to cook at Iraq al-Amir in Jordan. Without previous experience cooking outdoors, he says he just copied what he had seen Omar doing at the center and it usually worked. While they didn’t have the equipment of a regular kitchen, he was able, using a primus stove, to prepare the traditional repertoire such as roast beef, roast chicken, and stews for the dig crews. The roasts he would brown in a pan, then add water and cover the dish, leaving it to finish ‘roasting’ slowly on low flame. Abu Ahmed noted that serving this kind of good simple food in the remote areas where they were digging really made people happy.

Abu Ahmed notes that food fads have come and gone, (low fat, high carb, no carb…) but that he has not changed his style because he really likes the old fashioned recipes for hearty food. More and more frequently the ACOR residents will ask Abu Ahmed to prepare traditional Arabic dishes, which he does, although he balks at dishes such as rolled grape leaves or stuffed vegetables, because these are very time consuming and they demand many hours of preparation.

Abu Ahmed relies on the library of cookbooks given to him over the years by women such as Meredith Dorenemann (Rudy Dornemann was the first Annual professor director of ACOR), Vivian Van Elderen, Sue Sauer and Linda McCreery. That said, he likes to read food magazines and doesn’t mind to try new recipes occasionally.

Abu Ahmed cooking in the ACOR kitchen

Abu Ahmed cooking in the ACOR kitchen, 2009


One of the desserts that Abu Ahmed is best known for at ACOR are his date bars, which are indeed heavenly – sweet, moist, and sticky. He shares the recipe below:

ACOR DATE BARS
Makes 3 dozen bars. Preheat oven to 400Ëš and prepare a 13×9 inch baking pan.

Date Filling:
dates 3 cups cut up
sugar 2 tbs
water 1 ½ cups cook for 10 minutes, stirring, until thickened. Set aside.

Cookie Mix:
butter ½ cup
shortening ¼ cup
brown sugar 1 cup cream together with a mixer.

Flour 1 ½ cup
Salt 1 tsp
Baking Soda ½ tsp
Oats 1 ½ cups Mix into butter mixture, stirring lightly

Press half the cookie mix evenly into the greased pan. Spread all the date filling on top. Cover with the second half of the cookie mix, pressing it flat by hand.

Bake 25 minutes, cut up the bars in the pan while they are still warm.