In a kitchen in the "martyrs' quarter" of the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem, one of the toughest places in the West Bank, Islam Abu Aouda is preparing a soft dough of yoghurt, oil and flour. Soon she will fill small pockets with chopped spinach, sumac and lemon, and bake them in the oven. The mouthwatering parcels are called krass; I ate four but I wanted 14.
Less than 50 miles away, Reem Daloul is also kneading dough in a makeshift kitchen in Gaza City, lit only by a small window during one of the coastal enclave's regular eight-hour power cuts. This dough is for small cigar- and horseshoe-shaped pastries, filled with za'atar, a blend of spices, or soft, salty cheese mixed with hot chilli.
These two Palestinian women are divided by walls, fences and checkpoints, but connected by a love of traditional food – and the will to use this to improve their circumstances. Islam, whose six children include a 13-year-old disabled son, is part of a small collective of women, nearly all mothers of disabled children, who offer cookery classes and homestays in the Aida camp; Reem is part of the Zeitun Kitchen women's co-operative, which caters for weddings and family parties in Gaza. more