Saturday, August 28, 2010

Anissa Helou at Sharjah Book Fair

The good news for those looking forward to the 2010 Sharjah World Book Fair (@shjintlbookfair) is that internationally known food writer, art collector, journalist and broadcaster Anissa Helou (@anisshelou) will be giving two live cooking demonstrations at the international event.
Anissa, one of the leading experts on Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines (and whose website can be accessed here), was in Sharjah and Dubai this week. After being virtual friends on @Twitter for so long, it was greet to finally meet and chat face to face.
We got together at my favorite spot, Reem al Bawadi. Anissa was accompanied by photographer Jason Lowe. We were joined by Paul and Karla Castle (@DaddyBird and @kangayayaroo).
With Anissa Helou Friday night
Paul and Karla
The 10-day Sharjah World Book Fair, which will run from October 26 through November 6 under the patronage of HH Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah (third largest of the UAE’s seven emirates) member of the UAE Supreme Council, is an annual event that has been taking place since 1982.
The Sharjah World Book Fair aims to encourage reading habits, chiefly among the younger generation, and make books both accessible and affordable. It attracted more than 750 publishers from 42 countries in previous years. Apart from publishing houses, the fair brings together cultural establishments, research centers and societies, universities and media, as well as producers of educational aids, maps, audios and videos.
Anissa Helou and Jason Lowe
While Anissa, Paul, Carla and myself were chatting and catching up, Jason had a ball taking pictures of the dancers, oud player, and patrons enjoying sheesha, backgammon, card games, Arabic sweets, and all sorts of delicious fresh juices, coffee, Moroccan tea....
I discovered I had wrongly identified the kahwaji, or coffee man, in my "Ramadan in Dubai" post of August 18. He is, in fact, carrying a large urn of the traditional Tamar Hindi (Indian date) or tamarind juice. He goes around filling glasses, topped by a dash of orange blossom. His offerings are “on the house.”

Hummos balila...
,,,Tamar Hindi "on the house"

Another thing I missed on previous occasions is the waiter sporting wooden clogs, carrying a basket on his arm and mingling with diners. He distributes free servings of hummos balila -- boiled chickpeas mixed with garlic, salt, cumin and olive oil.
Young girls swirling around
Adults and children performed the traditional Arab dance that Anissa, Jason, Paul, Karla and I enjoyed Friday night. The first dancer was clad in white robes and then two little girls, no older than 10, swirled around 
I look forward to seeing Anissa again at the Sharjah World Book Fair in late October.

(You can see more pictures of the evening in my Picasa Photostream)