I absolutely love ethnic food.
I grew up in São Paulo, Brazil, a city that offers food from every single corner of this world. Childhood memories are fond in my heart when it comes to middle eastern food. Every Sunday my dad would take me to our favorite arab restaurant called Almanara. Right in what used to be the gorgeous centre of the city. Mouthwatering just the thought of it. The maître was always so impressed that I would eat raw kibbeh with my hands, helped by the bread dripping with hummus. Olive oil and green onions as well.
I was 5.
Once I moved to London I could still enjoy my arab feasts. Specially with friends cooking the real thing! What amazing meals we had. Stuffed grape leaves are comfort food. Not to mention how simple yet such delicacy it takes to prepare them.
Unfortunately since moving to Italy such pleasures have been drastically reduced. Italy is way behind on having greater variety of food besides their own only distinguished by each region. When in Milan you might get lucky and find a “non italian” restaurant.
So, Yes! I miss, I crave my dose of international palate.
But enough of me, my cravings and moaning, let’s talk about more important issues such as immigration and food. And photography too.
I have been noticing a great deal of positive actions on immigrants that have successfully settled in a new country thanks to their integration to a new community through food and their roots.
Syrian refugees are a beautiful example of it.
In the past two years when I visited São Paulo I went to new, cosy and family run places with outstanding food. They were all recently relocated Syrian families. My utter respect.
They are not the only ones, of course, as we all know how delicate the situation in Syria is.
So when I saw on my Instastories feed a post from a talented New Yorker food photographer I follow called Liz Clayman talking about her latest work my heart exploded. Syrians in Jersey City, community dinners, their story and food.
Went straight to Amazon.com to buy it.
With foreword by Chef José Andrés no less.
Preface with her gentle own words by Mayada Anjari herself together with witty Jennifer Sit on those extra two hands writing and translating.
Last but not least photography by Liz Clayman.
The book is so simple, with rather classic recipes not much fuss about it really. But such simplicity is what makes this book outstanding! Mayada’s family story, their perseverance in getting a better future for everyone, the importance of Friday night meals and how she managed to fit in her new community with the power of food.
Liz’s photos are precious. I could taste, smell each dish from the lighting, colors and beauty of each page’s shot.
My hearted compliments to this very special trio. You published a priceless gem in such delicate times. We need more of those!
Go and buy your copy right now if you consider yourself a real foodie person. It’s a must for your collection and dinners to share.