Tuesday, May 29, 2007


How am I supposed to eat Halva? I bought some of the sesame and pistachio with vanilla and have been eating it out of the tub but I'm sure that's wrong. I don't know what it should be eaten with, or on. It's not easy to eat either because it's quite dry and crumbly - I thought it would be more like peanut butter but it's not, it's like dehydrated cake frosting or crumbly fudge. With pistachios through it. It tastes great! But I just wish I knew how best to eat it. (Here's a recipe)

I've tried it on toast and it's ok but being crumbly it's quite a messy operation.I kind of hoped it would begin to melt and spread a bit seeing as it's fatty, seed based and it did a little bit but not enough. I've tried it with fruit which was also nice. I think It would go great crumbled on top of ice cream, but I am making guesses here. As far as a sweet goes it's rather nutritional

I'm good about trying new flavours. I like new cuisines, new tastes. Coming to the UK opened up a whole new aspect of food I didn't have previously. I'm not saying Cape cod is lacking in international fair, there's hundreds of Mexican and Italian and Chinese restaurants, all very similar with the same menus (here comes the hate mail). Coming to Scotland I was introduced to Indian, Thai, Japanese (in all honesty I didn't actually try Japanese food until I was in San Francisco in '96, for my brother's wedding, but I came back and found Japanese restaurants and went to them here.) I've learned to not be afraid of food, or at least not to be afraid to try new foods.

I've been stung by bad foods, don't get me wrong. I'm not a fan of pesto or ratatouille, or anything heavy with paprika; I'm just not a fan of those flavours - but I at least tried them, several times, before passing a judgment.

On Friday I was at work, and was perusing the naughty food aisle for a snack for breaktime. They had a new product: baklava. A dozen small servings all made in different pretty designs. I had to have it. I went up to join my co-workers who then began to peer suspiciously at my baklava. "What's that?" "Baklava." "What's baklava?" "Greek pastry, want some?" "NO!" and even after they all read the ingredients , been assured it was a sweet pastry, a dessert, a treat, they still were all "You always eat weird stuff." "What's weird about baklava?" "It's just...foreign" "Well, I'm foreign. I'm also not afraid of a pastry, you weirdo." and so the conversation went. A room full of foodie xenophobes and me, the foreigner, eating Greek food. It was shocking. One of them finally plucked up the courage to try it and declared "It's ok." "Really? It's not horrible?" There you are <- that sums up a lot of my experiences in Scotland; they trust no one and nothing and live in a rather small world and they're happy with that. I'm not saying all of them, certainly not, but a majority.

When I meet someone new I'm usually asked "Have you had haggis?" as if it's a big challenge to eat haggis (I love the quote from Mike Meyers' character in So I Married an Axe Murderer regarding haggis "No, I think it's repellent in every way. In fact, I think most Scottish cuisine is based on a dare.") Well of course I've had haggis. I'm not a coward. I may squirm at the thought of sheep's eye soup (I won't eat anything that's looking at me) or some Eastern cuisine that include dog or monkey but I don't disdain or fear those who do eat those foods. In that country, I would try it. Maybe not eagerly, but with manners and respect because to these people monkey brain is like a haggis.

I was having a packed lunch once with a friend who was from Japan and I had a small tub of apple sauce. He looked at it with that pinched up nose curiosity people get when they think they're about to get a nose full of sour milk or dung. "What is that?" he asked and I told him, apple sauce (which to a foreigner, having learned the word sauce may have thought it was something akin to a condiment) and I offered him some. He looked at it, smelled it, examined it..."Just try some already!" "Don't rush me! Would you try sushi so fast!" and I laughed. He tried it and then proclaimed "It's baby food!" and gave it back to me disappointment and disgust. At least he was curious and interested about it.

How can the Brits live so close to Europe, have such ties with the East and be afraid of new flavours?? They have the potential and desire on some level to be a melting pot but with such attitudes it's a dim hope.

So, anyways....how should I eat this halva?


Anonymous said...

On its own or with a little cinnamon and lemon juice.

Blazngfyre said...

I have no idea .... but it sure does sound delicious!
let me know if you figure it out.

Doug said...

In my family, we would eat it straight up, no additions. I can't imagine what I would do with it if I wanted to dress it up, but perhaps a berry sauce (to take care of the dryness?) But as far as I'm concerned, you're right on target.

NWJR said...

My daughter was brave enough to try Haggis while in Scotland. She even took a picture of it, which was quite enough for me.

Scottish food proves the adage: "If you like (insert favorite food here), you don't want to watch it being made."

Chunks said...

I've never had it. Never had haggis either, it just sounds gross. I'm not very adventurous but I've had coyote and bear and enjoyed them, maybe my tastes are limited to Canadian-y foods. :)

Maja said...

I've never heard of halva... maybe you could put it in the microwave to melt it or soften it a bit?

My policy with food is that I'll try anything once, sometimes twice or three times to see if I like it.

There are LOTS of gross Icelandic foods.

Lyvvie said...

Don't they make a fermented shark fin that's dug into the earth and left for months to cure - it's supposed to be a challenge to eat it without throwing up...according to Gordon Ramsay who had it on his show the The F-Word last week. So I believe you Maya!!

Doug that's how I did it in the end, just a spoon in the tub. Which I'll not be doing again as it has SCARY calories for a mere tablespoon serving...and who can only eat one tablespoon? I'm going to try it on ice cream, I think it would be wonderful with vanilla - those pistachios crumbled over and the hint of rosewater - delish!

Haggis is not a big deal - it's just a fat sausage made from sheep and barley. the extra spicy ones are fantastic and I honestly prefer the ones from the chip shop - deep fried. Scottish food is basic fare - simple greens, the best meats caught fresh and very little fiddling with sauce or spice. Scottish venison is the best.

John said...

My Bulgarian neighbour gave me some Halva last week.

Looked like old roast beef.

Tasted great.

But I couldn't get past the look, so most of it went to waste.

Michael said...

I had halva egg sandwich earlier. It was delicious.

Lyvvie said...

I wondered what that smell was....

Suisan said...

Halva in a tub?

We usually get Halva pressed into bars then wrapped in cellowrap.

Slice it. Eat it. Done.

It is good as part of a fruit and cheese plate with maybe some Feta cheese, some mild mozzeralla (Middle Easterners don't really do hard or stinky cheeses) and some apples and pears. Halva on apple slices is very yummy.

Good luck with your gustatorial adventures.

Anoush: said...

I grew up eating halva on buttered toast at my grandmother's house. The trick is you have to use hearty, thick bread and lots of butter. Then press a thick layer of halva on top.

Last night we just ate slices of it plain. It's a bit crumbly, but you're supposed to eat it with your fingers anyway, right? Am I right? And it lasts forever, so don't feel like you have to use up the tin right away--just keep it in the fridge.

Marti said...

I have been eating Halva since I was a child, a wonderful delicacy. I just slice it and pop in my mouth like little candies. It is not very easy to find in Nebraska, I was searching for it online when I stumbled on your blog. Enjoy your adventures with food.

Anonymous said...

I tried halva and boy did it set off some crazy function in my stomach lol, I thought it was delicious but it did near enough kill me with agony afterwards !

Hope you enjoyed yours :)

Anonymous said...

I bought some for my sister for Christmas. She is interested in all things Middle Eastern, as she is taking belly dancing lessons. I hope she likes it.

Anonymous said...

I've had it all the ways mentioned, but I recently made up this sandwich: Toast the bread, spread with Nutella (chocolate spread) first, then top with a little halawah crumbs and fresh fruit or berries. It was great!

Anonymous said...

Greek?? It's not Greek!
Both Halva and Baklawa are Arabic desserts.
Halve is made of sesame seeds with Tehina and sugar. It comes as is (vanilla flavored) or with pistachios / almonds / cashew / chocolate / walnuts. Block or floss halva.
Eat as is or on buttered slice of bread. Don't heat it and don't try to melt it in any way. it should be eaten as it is.

RICHARD said...

Hi..this is rick in Phoenix. My dad was Polish, I was brought by ship to the u.s. from England. My dad used to buy Halva at the Polish & German butcher shops (Chicago) by the slice. came in a 5 lb. loaf and a 25 lb. bucket. For a long time I thought it was a Polish confection. I pick it up at Sprouts foods in the 8 oz. package (bar). I like it with milk or vanilla soy milk by 8 continent. As it turns out it has been around a long time and it is probably Iranian. Marble is my favorite. I just ordered a case of 12 8 oz.bars from amazon with free shipping, 5 minutes ago....Thanks

Anonymous said...

I like to heat a pita up in the oven, spread butter on it and top it with halva and fold it in half and eat it.

ftch_tension said...

honestly, Halva straight is the best way to go about it. I'm having some right now. I was just looking for recipes when I stumbled on this.

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