Libya Cuisine: The Qarqush or Qiddeed

Libya Cuisine: The Qarqush or Qiddeed

September 06, 2017 - 13:47
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Written By: SafaAlharathy

Meat drying is a widespread technique used all over the world under different names with various methods. In Libya, it is Qarqush or Qiddeed. Since Libya is an African country that enjoys a whole lot of sunshine, dried meat is prepared by exposing the meat to sunshine for several days, flipping it once and a while and keeping watch on dirt and unpleasant flies!

This makes the Qarqush a very sensitive food, which many stick to preparing it at home rather than buying it ready-made from the grocery. Summer is the perfect time for making the Qarqush, but it is also associated with Eid Al-Adha, and since the Eid is fixed on the lunar calendar, it cycles through all the seasons, which means that Eid may come in winter. If so, we rely on the air circulation and just have to do with a little bit of winter sunshine.

In the old-days, Qiddeed was a basic food and more common than fresh meat for many reasons, one is for the lack of freezers, and maybe the unsettled lifestyle of the desert inhabitants, but one of which the nowadays still have in common is that you could prepare a quick meal with dried meat, and this comes in handy with an unexpected guest that might drop in at breakfast, lunch or at dinner time; for it is from the genuine Arab tradition to serve food for any person who enters your house at mealtime.

The basic ingredient for dried meat is of course salt, other herbs vary from one country or region to another. In Libya, we dry other parts of livestock too, including the lungs, heart, stomach and the intestines. It's called dried "Usban", this might sound awkward, but the old generation might have come up with this idea due to the poor life they experienced that made meat an expensive fancy meal at that time, so once you gain livestock, you won't dare waste any part of it. They even cooked the head, legs, and melted the fat to cook with.

However, this food was passed on and is still desired. We grew up eating it and we don't find it gross, the herbs included such as garlic, dried mint hot spice and others give it the unique smell that identifies the dried Usban when cooked, from up the street.

Qarqush goes nicely with couscous, pasta, the traditional meal Basin, but most familiar with the homemade pasta "Rishtat Al-Burma" and the "Shakshuka", a light quick meal that consists of green pepper, tomatoes, and eggs. The recipe is shared with other Mediterranean countries but with an additional Libyan touch the "Qarqush".