Picasso in Tirana

Finally few days ago I started to take my bike for a ride and discover the other sides of Tirana. What really encouraged me was the sunny weather after days of rain, and knowing that there was a paintings exhibition featuring one of Picasso’s work.

So I took my bike, and headed first to the artificial lake, cause I went there only once. It was truly lovely.  Lots of trees, and nice weather, people walking and jogging. Noticeably, most of the people there were either moms pushing poussettes, or elderly couples walking side by side, plus some joggers.

Then I headed for the National Historical Museum, thinking that this is where the exhibition will be held, cause there was big signs there for the Italian Albanian cooperation event which supports the exhibition. But I found that the National Museum had a small gallery for the Italian cooperation thingie, featuring some old photographs by the Marubi family, plus others. I was very happy cause I am putting in mind to go all the way to Shkodra to visit the atelier of the Marubi family and maybe find the photo book I heard about.

Also, I took the opportunity to visit the museum itself for the first time. Even though it is strategically positioned in the exact center of the capital, and its huge facade encourages, I was literally the only visitor in the museum! I saw during my round exactly 6 employees (all women)! The souvenir shop is actually nice and has stuff different from the other shops in Tirana, good for a souvenir hunt if I didn’t have the time to go to Kruja.

The next day, I headed to the National Art Gallery to check out the exhibitions that was held as part of the Italian Albanian Cooperation festival under the slogan “Two Nations, One Sea, One Friendship”.  The artworks are part of the collection “Ca` La Ghironda” of an Italian art collector Dr. Francesco Martani.

They are actually 2 exihibtions, one titled “Classic Splendours” featuring works from the 16th and 7th century, of artists such as Francesco Raibolini, Guido Reni, Annibale Caracci and il Guercino. From a quick glimpse from their wikipedia pages, it is noticeable that all of them are from Bologna and their style is Baroque.

The second exhibition is titled “Moods of the 20th Century” and featured works by Francis Bacon, Pablo Picasso, Kazimir Malevich,, and others.

I am not an art connoisseur by all means, so my opinion here is just instinctive. Classics are really nice and talks to you, but the modern paintings are just too artistic to be digested! For me most of them were just “shakhabeet” of a 3 year old kid or water colours spills on plain papers! And even the Picasso painting I saw, was not by any mean inspiring!

I was especially intrigued by two paintings, one of them was just painted blue, that’s all! Not even different shades of blue, no, just one! The second painting was a yellow canva, with some diagonal cuts, and I was very surprised that my husband told me that it was actually very famous! For what??

Anyway, I didn’t show yet what I saw in the National Historical Museum, and the old photographs gallery, I guess it shall be in another post isa 🙂

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Zucchini in the oven

a very recommended recipe for those who would like to add more vegetables on their menu. The source is aklaat.com. The below is the briefing of the recipe, for more details and exact ingredients, check out the website.

In brief, you cut the meat, tomatoes, onions, garlic into small cubes, and you cut the zucchini into small circles.

You marinate the meat with half of the onions and garlic portions, plus black pepper, salt, cardamon, arabic gum (mestekka), Bay Leaves (war` Laura).

Then you add the zucchini, and half of the tomatoes, and mix.

You put it in a plate suitable for the oven, and cover it with the rest of the tomatoes., and you add some cardamon, mestekka, war` Laura, and a bit of oil on the surface.

After half an hour in the oven, you add one cup of stock.

After another half an hour, in a small pan you put some garlic and fry them in a bit of oil till they get brown and add them on the surface. Leave it for another 10 minutes, et voila!

Lemon Pistachio Biscotti

Trying to fill out my day, cooking became my new hobby. Today I stumbled upon a recipe of Lemon Pistachio Biscotti, and decided to give it a shot, even though I have almost half of the pistachio needed.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups shelled pistachios
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of 2 lemons
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Spread the pistachios on a baking sheet into a single layer. Bake for 10 minutes or until the nuts are lightly toasted.

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each. Mix in the vanilla. Add the flour, baking powder, salt and lemon zest and mix until just combined. Fold in the pistachios.

Divide the dough in half. Form each into a log 12 inches long and 1 inch tall on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for 35 minutes or until the bottoms are just starting to brown. Let the logs cool for 5 minutes, then slice on a diagonal into 12 1-inch slices. Put the cookies back on the sheet pan and bake for 8 minutes, then flip over and bake on the other side for 8 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Thanks Annalise and ur fabulous completely delicious blog 🙂

An Amazing race

I am currently reading Nadia El Awady‘s blog posts on her experience in getting out of UK despite the flights cancellations, and improvising as she goes a plan to cross Europe, then take a flight from Rome to Amman then to Cairo.

I saw Nadia’s email posted on SS mailing list, and I was intrigued with her courageous steps. I don’t know her personally, but I followed some of her previous posts of her climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania (which is the highest mountain in Africa!). She is indeed a very exceptional woman, and way different from any Egyptian women I know. Oh, and did I mention that she is a mom and wears a veil? Both of these things may have hindered any woman’s aspirations for adventure, but not for her it seems.

Nadia, I salute you!

a mild pain like the feather of a bird moving quietly from one place to another…

ألم خفيف كريشة طائر تنتقل بهدوء من مكان لآخر

When I first heard about this novel, I couldn’t help but laugh at the extremely long title, thinking it’s gonna be another el halazona yamma el halazona. Why on earth would a writer choose a 9 words title for his first novel!!! Then I got to know that the writer Alaa Khaled is the one responsible for Amkenah (literally: places), which is a magazine specifically interested in the “culture of the place”, and in my opinion is one of the best in discussing and reviewing cultural trends related to “places”, may it be neighborhoods, oases, villages,,, etc, so I was a bit encouraged to buy it and maybe read it in some point.

(Spoiler warning)

This novel is definitely very different from other Arabic novels, and breaks lots of the common trends of the Egyptian literature*, for instance, there is actually no single plot for the 380 pages. At the beginning you find yourself in front of tens of different names intertwined together with numerous relations, and you actually consider getting a pen and a paper to write all the names and how they are related. Then bit by bit you discover that the common theme is the street where the narrator lives with his family, and from this point you start to see Alexandria as a whole from the narrator’s lens.

The short storytelling runs around the narrator’s direct family, and moves constantly to his extended family, his neighbors and his friends, without a specific order. This gives the novel at the beginning a chaotic feeling, then bit by bit you let yourself get withdrawn with the small intimate details depicting the different personalities and relationships, unintentionally relating them to incidents and people you actually know.

Throughout the stories, I didn’t feel the pain the author mentioned in the title, except for the constant feeling of nostalgia to the good old days. However I was struck hard with the final parts talking about the death of his father, and how he felt about it. Maybe because I recently passed through this painful experience, that I felt tears running afresh, and only then did I understand the meaning of the title…. a mild pain like the feather of a bird moving quietly from one place to another…

* I am not a literature specialist, and this is an opinion of a common reader, please let me know if there are other similar works if you heard about them.

And here are some quotes:

أي وداع يفتح في نفسي مسارات للدموع . بالرغم من إنهاء خدمتي في الجيش و عودتي للحياه التي أحبها ، و يجب علي في هذه الحالة أن أكون فرحان ، بل طائرا من الفرح . و لكن ليس هذا ما شعرت به . فأي مكان عشنا فيه  ، ثم تركناه يحمل جزء منا . أننا نودع هذا الجزء الذي لن نستعيده  مرة أخرى إلا عبر الذكريات  .‎‎‎‎‎‎‎‎‎‎‎