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  • Jocette Lee

Cuma//joo mah: Would You Eat Camel?


Throughout my week of listening to podcasts and reading articles, the topic of camel meat came up three times. I take that as a sign to dig a little deeper and explore this somewhat shocking (to the Western world) topic.


While listening to a podcast called, "A Taste of the Past," Linda Pelaccio, a culinary historian, interviews Anissa Helou to learn more about 'Food of the Islamic World' (1). In the course of the interview, Helou briefly discusses the preparation and consumption of camel meat. While some people might turn their nose up at eating this meat, the truth is that camels are one of the most prevalent animals in much of the Middle East and North Africa. Camels are, "hardy, steady, and dependable, able to trek for miles under the brutal sun with very little water, camels became an invaluable part of the overland network of goods, labor, and infrastructure," qualities that other animals, like a horse, can not offer (2). With the commonness of these animals, it is only natural to see the population in these cultures prepare this meat for sustenance.


Historically, the consumption of camel milk and camel meat has been practiced by Bedouin tribespeople since the advent of civilization. However, in modern times, the process of preparation is usually practiced for a special occasion or celebration. Helou states, "It's a delicacy; nowhere in the region is it eaten as a daily thing. In Syria and Cairo there are specialist camel butchers, while in the Gulf, camel meat is eaten at parties and wedding receptions" (3). Apparently, the most tender part of the camel lies under the fatty tissue of the camel hump which is reserved for the guests of honor. When reading about the camel meat trade in Australia, author Reina Gattuso explains, "Lovers of camel meat say it’s worth it for the taste alone: like a cross between lamb and beef, mostly lean but with pockets of sweet, delicate fat. Camel meat is so good...it’s only a matter of time before European Australians catch on" (4). Both the meat and milk still hold a lot of potential to make a mark on the western plate.



In Turkey, especially along the Aegean coast, camel wrestling is a traditional pastime. "Though a niche spectator sport, camel wrestling attracts a passionate fan base, particularly in this area. The tradition stretches back thousands of years among Turkic tribes, but is now pretty much confined to the Aegean area," says author Alev Scott of The Guardian (5). To feed the spectators, the camel theme is carried into the food stalls at the competition. Instead of using meat like beef or lamb, camel meat is spiced, cured, and cooked for fans; not only do the camels entertain, they also fill the bellies of the spectators. Without too much judgment, this example provides another method of preparation and consumption of camel meat. With the increase in the availability of camel meat (2) and creative uses like camel burgers and camel sausage, it might soon become more popular to meet someone who has never tasted this deliciously tender meat. To learn more about camel meat, check out the sources referenced below.




Things I am loving:

  1. Have you ever heard of an ice cream bean? Native to South America, this bean "looks like cotton candy and tastes like ice cream" and I am so interested to try it.

  2. Tahini and Leblebi Swirl Brownies from our beloved Cenk Sönmezsoy, a phenomenal Turkish baker based in Istanbul. Check out his new cookbook!

  3. A very interesting HBR read, Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders? which can be summed up as, "According to the author, however, the absence of women in leadership roles has less to do with women themselves and more to do with how we interpret leadership traits. Confidence – a trait more associated with men – is often misinterpreted as competence. As a result, charismatic, but incompetent men have fewer barriers to reach the top than women. Individuals in positions to promote and hire managers should think more critically about what seems like a leadership trait versus what is an actual leadership trait."

  4. Interested in how Joe Biden plans to tackle policy related to food and agriculture? This article walks you through his priorities as well as some aspects of agriculture he seems to have overlooked.

  5. And finally, a really beautiful way of preserving old family recipes.



Notice some recent changes around here?


We are in the process of rebranding the blog! For quite some time, I have known that Hasat Günü is a mouthful, especially for those not used to speaking Turkish. We shortened the name to 'Hasat,' meaning 'harvest' in Turkish. Our new website URL is www.hasatco.com and our Instagram handle is @hasatco. If you are already following or subscribed to the blog, you do not need to update or change anything about how you engage with this space. This is simply an update that changes are happening, new designs are coming and the creative energy is flowing! Stay tuned!








Referenced Works:

  1. Podcast: A Taste of the Past - Episode 300: Food of the Islamic World

  2. Australia’s Growing Camel Meat Trade Reveals a Hidden History of Early Muslim Migrants by Reina Gattuso. Gastro Obscura, https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/are-there-camels-in-australia?utm_source=Gastro+Obscura+Weekly+E-mail&utm_campaign=4435d4f54e-GASTRO_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2021_01_26&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_2418498528-4435d4f54e-69282969&mc_cid=4435d4f54e&mc_eid=4f308c19b6

  3. Anyone for camel meat? One hump or two? by Katy Salter. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2013/apr/16/camel-meat-one-hump-two

  4. Australia’s Growing Camel Meat Trade Reveals a Hidden History of Early Muslim Migrants by Reina Gattuso. Gastro Obscura, https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/are-there-camels-in-australia?utm_source=Gastro+Obscura+Weekly+E-mail&utm_campaign=4435d4f54e-GASTRO_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2021_01_26&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_2418498528-4435d4f54e-69282969&mc_cid=4435d4f54e&mc_eid=4f308c19b6

  5. Camel wrestling on Turkey's Aegean coast by Alev Scott. https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2012/mar/23/turkey-holidays-camel-wrestling-aegean