Gaza: Congealed Gem of the Arab World

A stretch of the long Gaza coastline
Between ideological differences, it is often those that are innocent that get hurt. The political ideologies of Palestine and Israel have clashed for decades and the resulting conflict has culminated itself into a backdrop of daily turmoil in Gaza, a microcosmic gem of the Arab world.  As I am learning about the conflict that is quintessential to understanding the region, I am intrigued by the power of the human spirit. It is interesting to see how in the face of enormous tragedies and distress, the mind finds a path to be resilient and fruitful. Culture is that path and it serves as an outlet of expression that harvests the pain of reality and bares unique qualities that define a society. It is communicated through traditions and one of the most powerful forms of this is the cuisine of a region. 
A traditional food stand in Gaza


It defines the creative abilities of a culture while simultaneously opening new venues of appreciating consciousness. That is the reason why The Gaza Kitchen A Palestinian Culinary Journey (co-authors Laila El-Haddad and Maggie Schmitt) is such a good read. Its mouth-watering recipes are juxtaposed with anthropological vignettes of Gazan life, forming a full-fledged realization of a complex and intriguing place. The storytelling nature of the writing immerses the reader in a world that is thousands of miles away and yet feels right at home. 

Gaza is blazing hot with culture and spirit and I invite you to get a taste of it in Philadelphia on November 23, 2013 at the Dorrance H. Hamilton Center for Culinary Enterprises on 310 South 48th Street.

Zibdiyit Gambari,  a seaport dish 

Al-Bustan has invited co-author, blogger, and activist Laila El-Haddad to demonstrate several of the recipes noted in the book and to share her stories from Gaza.

During my work at Al-Bustan, I have gained a lot of insight and incredible opportunities to appreciate the culture of the Arab world. I hope to learn more about Gaza, along with fellow Philadelphians, by sampling scrumptious food at this cooking demonstration on November 23. Click here for details about the event.


– Muhammad Naqvi, Intern/Program Assistant
UPenn-College of Liberal and Professional Studies 
Class of 2015