Sunday, November 6, 2016

New? Retro? or just Old?

The embedded video by Lilly Jarlsson shows how to make freekeh burgers, a vegetarian dish that she says her great-grandmother made before World War II.  This is one of many videos Jarlsson has made about about how to live the "retro" lifestyle; how to dress, cook, and do many other things the way people did them in the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s.  

I became interested in Jarlsson's videos because of my interest in historical costume, but this video grabbed my attention because I'd never heard of "freekeh" before.  

"Freekeh", it turns out, is a very old grain that is currently enjoying a surge of popularity because of the growing interest in healthier eating.   It is the name for a variety of durum wheat which is harvested when "green" or young and then roasted before being packed for sale.  Like quinoa and other grains that are gaining attention and popularity here in the West, it has more fiber and nutrients than grains commonly used in Western cooking.  It has long been popular in the Near East.  You can read more about freekeh (pronounced "FREE-kah") here, here, and here.

Jarlsson's recipe involves cooking freekeh, mixing it with diced onion, walnuts, cheese, and parsley, and then thickening the mixture with breadcrumbs, corn meal or oatmeal before shaping it into patties or balls and panfrying it.  Since my husband detests cheese, and prefers his burgers to be composed of actual meat, I don't expect to be trying freekeh burgers any time soon.  But I am amused at the sight of a historical Middle Eastern food that was made before World War II becoming a trendy "healthy grain" food now.  Perhaps it really is true that there is nothing new under the sun.

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