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Christian Arab, Chaldean Arabian omelette pita sandwiches. An unusual breakfast sandwich of egg omelettes, cheese, pita bread and your favorite meat (bacon, ham or lamb slices)
By Ray Hanania
Christian Arabs throughout the Middle East and the Levant and Chaldeans, Middle East Christians mainly from Iraq, often enjoy a breakfast sandwich omelette prepared with flat pita bread and bacon strips or even ham slices.
Although bacon, ham and all pork products are considered haram and unclean by the Muslim and Jewish religions, many Christian Arabs and Middle East Christians like Chaldeans from Iraq and Assyrians and Phoenicians enjoy the meats which are and excellent breakfast and even main course side dish.
The key ingredients of the omelette are standard fair and include 3 eggs, milk, cheese and a pita bread flat, plus bacon strips or ham. Many often also substitute the bacon and ham with grilled lamb slices or even beef slices when it is available. Lamb meat is very greasy and doesn’t fry as well as beef, which is why many Christian Arabs and Chaldeans enjoy using bacon or ham.
Understanding religion and its importance on Jews, Middle East Christians and Muslims is key to understanding the Middle East. Not all Christian Arabs and Chaldeans eat pork products however, adhering to the cultural taboos of the Islamic religion. And, most Western Christians including American Christians, for example, do not recognize the large but vanishing presence of Arab Christians and the topic has become a political football.
During the month of Ramadan, for example, when Muslims fast to celebrate their faith many restaurants in the Middle East do not serve food during daylight hours and wait until the iftar (sunset meal), Christian Arabs and Christian Arab owned restaurants also do not serve food, at least publicly and many will eat inside or even join in the fast and eat in the evening out of respect for their religious cousins.
Ramadan is the 9th month of Islam, Muslims only eat before sunrise, suhoor, or after sunset, iftar after maghrib prayers are offered. Muslims and Christians and Jews all worship the same God and in Arabic for Muslims and for Christian Arabs and Chaldeans and other Arabic speaking Middle East Christians, they use the word “Allah” as a common word for “God.”
Oftentimes, racists and bigots assert that “Allah” is a different God than the God of Jews and Christians, citing that although Muslims believe in Jesus and Mary as prophets of Islam also they do not believe Jesus was resurrected nor do they believe that Mary experienced a “virgin birth.” Yet those difference are significant but do not dilute the Islamic recognition of God as being the same for Christians and Jews. Ironically, many Jews also do not believe Muslims but also Christians do not worship the same God.
Nonetheless,the pita omelette is very popular among Arab Christians and Middle East Christians. After mixing the eggs with milk and grilling adding cheese and even vegetables to the mix, they will also fry a pita bread in butter and insert the omelette into the pita bread.
It’s a wonderful break from popular Middle East tradition that you should try, with your own preferences for a side meat that meets your religious beliefs.
It’s my personal Arabian breakfast meal, next only to the Egyptian breakfast of ful mudammas (medamas).
1/8 cup cheese
1/8 cup of milk
1/8 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Bacon slices, ham slices or meat alternative
1 Tomato; add 1/2 green pepper and 1/2 onion per cooking preference
In a separate frying pan, fry the bacon, ham or meat alternative slices to your preference. Set aside.
Mix the eggs and milk and then fry in the olive oil.
Dice the vegetables that you select tomatoes, green peppers, onions.
Flip the mixture over in the pan and add the cheese. You can also add diced tomatoes, diced green peppers and onions.
Fold the omelette mix over
Cut open the top of the pita bread. Remove most of the remaining oil in the frying pan and fry the pita bread on both sides. (Sometimes people prefer to use butter in frying the pita bread as it allows for a crisper constituency).
Insert the omelette inside the pita bread. You can either insert the meats into the break omelette sandwich or eat them separately on the side.
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Ray Hanania is an award winning political columnist and author. He covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).
Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and for TheArabDailyNews.com, and TheDailyHookah.com.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.
His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania
Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com
Visit this link to read Ray's column archive at the ArabNews,com www.arabnews.com/taxonomy/term/10906