Arab-American writer Elmaz Abinader speaks of the exciting time for authors that exists in Latin America. The lyrical verse of the Moors once found its way from the camel trains of the Arab empire to Spain and became part of medieval literature. Spanish galleons carried this warm breeze from Africa to tropical sands of the New World.
The Song of Maisuna – Moorish poem
The russet suit of camel’s hair, with spirits light, and eye serene, is dearer to my bosom far than all the trappings of a queen. The humble tent and murmuring breeze that whistles thro’ its fluttering wall, my unsparing fancy please better than towers and splendid halls. The rustic youth unspoilt by art, son of my kindred, poor but free, will ever to Maisuna’s heart, be dearer pampered fool, than thee.
Writers living in Latin America created bold experiments from multiracial roots. We can hear winds from the Oriental desert and African steppe in verses by modern poets Jamie Sabines and Pablo Neruda.
The lovers say nothing.
Love is the finest of the silences,
the one that trembles most and is hardest to bear.
The lovers are looking for something.
The lovers are the ones who abandon,
the ones who change, who forget.
Their hearts tell them that they will never find.
They don’t find, they’re looking.
- Jaime Sabines
The wind grows in silence
with his one leaf and his battered flower,
with the sand which owns only touch and silence -
it is nothing, it is a shade,
the track of an imagined horse,
it is nothing unless it be a wave time has received
since all waves go towards the cold eyes
of time glaring under the ocean.
- Pablo Neruda
Spaniards brought Ficus carica, known to us as the common fig, to Mexico in 1520. Originating in northern Asia Minor, the fig tree is mentioned prominently in the Bible. Sumerian stone tablets dating back to 2,500 BC record their usage. Cooked figs were ideal as sweeteners in lieu of sugar in medieval cookery, a practice that still continues today in North Africa and the Middle East. Enjoy this simple, artful recipe that brings out the best of Mexico’s luscious mission figs while they are in season!
1 lb. black mission figs
2 tbsp. orange juice
1 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. chopped lemon peel
4-6 whole cloves
Rinse figs and cut stems off the top of each. Score the tops of the fruit with a sharp knife. Place figs skin side down in a baking pan. Combine ingredients well and spoon over figs. Cover pan tightly with a lid or aluminum foil. Bake figs for 20 minutes in a 375° F oven. Reserve syrup after cooking and remove whole cloves. Spoon syrup over figs and garnish with pistachios, sliced almonds, or chopped walnuts and a slice of lemon peel. Serve warm or room temperature.