Jerusalem Rose Market in northeast Portland showcases the breadth of the Palestinian experience
On a single shelf inside the Jerusalem Rose Market, you’ll find apricot leather from Syria, a cloudy green jar of Jordanian Balady olives, and black Al’Ard seed paste from Palestine. Owner Ramzy Farouki built this shelf himself, and a few others, to hold dips, grains, spices, sauces, oils, candies, teas, and preserves in his new Northeast storefront. Portland.
Most of the articles come from countries in South West Asia and North Africa. Some come directly from the cities of the occupied West Bank: Ramallah, Nablus, Taybeh. A smaller amount comes from US-based Palestinian manufacturers and even less from Farouki’s own kitchen in Portland, where his mother whips fresh labneh, crushes filthy ladies, and mixes hummus and moutabal to store the market’s fridge. .
“It’s a Palestinian market, but that means it has Iraqi, Syrian, Lebanese, North African products,” he said. He then points to a rectangular box of valuable Holy Land olive oil. “There are things from home [in Palestine], but it comes from Palestinians like me. They’re in Minneapolis, so they’re Palestinians in the diaspora.
Farouki grew up in a proud Palestinian community in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1948, Zionist paramilitary groups forced his family to leave their home in Jerusalem. After having sought refuge in Ramallah, then in Kuwait, the family moved to the United States in 1970. Very young, he understood the concept of displacement.
“It was a common subject,” he recalls. “I knew something had happened to us and we couldn’t engage in our family history. “”
Despite this, the community of St. Louis of Farouki was rich in a shared Palestinian culture, cuisine and language. He remembers coming home to attend his grandfather’s cooking and carpentry projects, reading his grandmother’s poems, and listening to her spoken stories. He also remembers running to the back of his favorite Arab market, Farid’s, to see which mountains of VHS tapes were playing that day on the decades-old TV.
These souvenirs live on the walls of the Jerusalem Rose Market. Framed sepia prints of Farouki’s ancestors dot the wood panels near the register, and a square 1994 television perched atop a door shows Farouki’s favorite Arab films.
And then there are the things you can actually buy. In the refrigerators are bottles of beer from Taybeh, the first microbrewery in Palestine. Below them, Baghdadi Pepsi hits the hips with thin bottles of Mission, an Iraqi orange drink that sparkles on the tongue like a soluble vitamin C tablet. Slices of Ackawi cheese floating in brine nestle against containers of dips made by Farouki’s mother, the “Rose of Jerusalem” after which the market is named.
Since the inauguration at the end of May, the market stalls have been full and Farouki never tires of looking at them.
“Product design in Arabic is so inflamed. Are you kidding me? “He asks, pointing to a red and yellow box of Egyptian El Arosa tea.” This thing looks like a Marlboro packet! Who copied whom !? “
Farouki himself is a staple in the market as are the shelves he built. If he’s not straightening up family photos or discussing the etymology of “halawa” with an interested customer, he’s sitting behind the cashier’s counter. Lifting his mask to take sips of coffee from a small glass thimble, he catalogs old family photos and prepares for the upcoming “Weekly Palestine” educational sessions, which he hosts on the Market Neighbor’s Instagram page. , the Center for the Study and Preservation of Palestine (CSPP).
Although the natural owner of the market, Farouki is above all a defender of Palestinian culture. He built the market to be both a way to educate people about Palestinian culture and a way to fund independent research at the CSPP.
“Between the CSPP and the market, I want to share and preserve all that is Palestinian identity. Intangible things like knowledge and history, but also physical things, ”says Farouki. “By supporting Palestinian manufacturers, you are strengthening their existence. “