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Food for Thought

February 3, 2010

Don’t act surprised. You knew that cliche would be used at some point. I mean this is a food blog after all.

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day and shared with him my idea for Zayt and Zaatar. He was incredibly encouraging and shared with me some of his ideas for archiving his family’s history – a history that inevitably includes fascinating stories of food and the meaning behind its making.We’re both Palestinian, but our family histories seem to be drastically different. What also seems to be different is the food we ate.

One of the many reasons I started this project was to learn from others how the food we all grew up eating was prepared. I know this might seem like a “duh” concept, but aside from the Arabic food I ate within my family culture, and the watered-down version of Arabic cuisine you eat at restaurants, I have no real frame of reference for regional Arabic cooking.

When I told my friend, mentioned above, that I was making Mishat he didn’t know what I was talking about. Hell, I even mentioned it to my cousins and it took them awhile to figure out what I was talking about. Although our mothers spent a lot of time together sitting around coffee tables chopping slabs of meat, gossiping and watching soap operas, the similarities stopped there. And now that many of our mothers have passed on, we find a great deal of comfort in sitting around and remembering who made what best of all.

My hope is that we create our own versions of these recipes and perfect them so we can pass them on to future generations.

Food is in my family’s blood. It’s how a majority of my relatives earn a living. The funny part? I just made that correlation this evening. It just dawned on me that many of my family members all over the U.S., from New York, to Texas to Tennessee, either own fairly successful restaurants or companies that supply food to restaurants. This should have been a no-brainer but I’m slow.

Let’s hope I have some untapped culinary gene that kick into high gear once the real cooking begins. I’m still torn on what I’ll be cooking next, but I’ll hopefully have that figured out sooner than later. Stay tuned!

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