I’m thrilled you’re here! Whether it’s to explore Palestinian cooking, to feast on glorious pictures of our food, or to learn more about me and my journey to this point: welcome!
I have long believed that food is more than sustenance. It is joy and communication, it is love and memories and it tells the story of family, history and tradition. This page is my story…the one I would like to share with you.
Over a decade ago, I promised myself I would never end up in the kitchen. Yet here I am today, first-time author of a Palestinian cookbook who spends her days cooking for and feeding the people she loves. I remember reading once that people often meet their destiny on the very road they take to avoid it, and this is exactly what happened to me.
I left Jerusalem for university in the US at the age of seventeen to pursue bigger dreams and opportunities. Right before leaving, I heard someone quip to my father “Why bother paying for an expensive education? Don’t you know she’s going to end up in the kitchen like all Arab women anyway?”
Of course this view angered me, but it also made me more determined than ever to prove it wrong – to never return to the kitchen. I spent almost ten years on that path: an MBA from Wharton and an MSc in cultural psychology from LSE followed by experience with some of the world’s largest corporations and NGOs like McKinsey & Co and The World Economic Forum. While I may have continued on this fast-paced career, ignoring my real passion and desire to give back, the birth of my first daughter, Yasmeen, forced me to take a step back and truly think about what I was doing, what kind of an example I was setting, and what kind of a legacy I was leaving her, and any other children I had.
And so, while on maternity leave, I started working on a proposal for a Palestinian cookbook that wove together generations of my families' recipes against a backdrop of historical Palestinian anecdotes and cultural insights . Soon after, I had another daughter, Hala. With no formal culinary platform, with a toddler in pre-school and a newborn in my arms, I started meeting with agents and publishers.
Against the odds, I managed – through sheer persistence, hard work, encouragement and some luck – to sign on with a wonderful agent and obtain a cookbook publishing deal with Phaidon, the leading global publisher of the creative arts. It was a dream come true that defied expectations in every way.
I have spent the better part of the last two years working on this project, bringing it to life for you. My hope now is that my story inspires you to push back…to dream big…to fight for what you want even if it’s not what people expect…to live life to the fullest…to always eat good food…to create beautiful memories…and to savor every second. Most of all though, I hope this book encourages you to learn more about the beautiful food and generous culture of Palestinians where you are always a welcome guest of any Palestinian Table.