"From Pages to Plates: Celebrating Arab-American Authors and Middle Eastern Flavors"

"From Pages to Plates: Celebrating Arab-American Authors and Middle Eastern Flavors"

Arab-American authors weave narratives that transcend borders, offering unique perspectives on identity, culture, and belonging. Join us as we explore their diverse voices alongside the vibrant world of Middle Eastern cuisine, celebrating the creativity and richness of both literature and gastronomy.

Should be on your “To Be Read” List

Among the many books deserving a spot on your "To Be Read" list are works showcasing  the talent and depth of Arab-American authors. "Thirty Names of Night" by Zeyn Joukhadar explores   art, identity, and family against the backdrop of New York City. "Dear Born" by Ghassan Zeineddine offers a collection of moving short stories speaking to the displacement and resilience of the immigrant experience.

“The Thirty Names of Night” by Zeyn Joukhadear

Joukhadar’s multigenerational coming of age story  offers a visceral   portrayal of loss, memory, migration, and identity.   With its signature storytelling, Joukhadar’s  “The Thirty Names of Night explores our shared quest to uncover and ultimately embrace our true selves.

“Dearborn” by Ghassan Zeineddine

 In Dearborn, Zeineddine presents a  new voice in modern fiction, urging listeners to contemplate the essence of belonging to a community and the ways  we support each other through life's challenges.

In novels like "Salt Houses" by Hala Alyan and "A Woman Is No Man" by Etaf Rum, readers are transported across generations, witnessing the intricacies of familial bonds and the enduring legacy of home. These stories , shed light on the twists and turns of identity, tradition, and the power of womanhood. And in "The Skin and Its Girl" by Sabrina El Rayess, readers are invited into a world where myth and reality converge, exploring themes of love, loss, and the search for belonging.

“Salt Houses” by Hala Alyan

Salt Houses Alyan's debut novel explores a Palestinian family caught between present and past, between displacement and home. Alyan  humanizes a longstanding conflict by challenging a harsh truth- we can’t go home again. 

“A Woman is No Man” by Etaf Rum

Taking place in a version of America that feels  both distant and intimately familiar, "A Woman Is No Man" unfolds as a narrative rich in themes of culture, honor, secrecy, and betrayal, intertwined with elements of love and violence. Providing a  portrayal of a tightly controlled cultural milieu, it also serves as a reminder of the destructive power of silence and shame within families, and how these forces can undermine the very bonds we strive to uphold.

“The Skin and It’s Girl” by Sarah Cypher

Sarah Cypher's debut novel The Skin and it’s Girl examines how we let stories shape our perceptions and identities and how they can both unite and divide us. Weaving in metafictional elements, this tale has the power of mending fractured familial bonds.

For Young Readers

For young readers, a diverse array of stories awaits, offering glimpses into the lives of children navigating the intersections of culture and identity. "The Kindest Red" by Sanaa Khalaf and "Under My Hijab" by Hena Khan celebrate the beauty of diversity and self-expression, while "The Cat Man of Aleppo" by Irene Latham and Karim Shamsi-Basha and "Mama Shamsi at the Bazaar" by Lisa Blecker introduce young minds to the magic of storytelling and community.

“The Kindest Red” by Ibtihaj Muhammed

Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad, along with bestselling, award-winning collaborators S.K. Ali and Hatem Aly, present a touching examination of friendship, faith, and the uplifting power of spreading kindness wherever one travels.

“Under My Hijab” by Hena Khan

Under My Hijab offers a welcoming introduction to hijabs for readers of all backgrounds and celebrates the diverse Muslim women and girls who embrace this choice.

“The Cat Man of Aleppo” by Irene Latham and Karim Shamsi-Basha

This Caldecott Honor-winning narrative recounts the courageous tale of Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel, who amidst the turmoil of the Syrian Civil War, fearlessly provided refuge to the abandoned cats of Aleppo.

“Mama Shamsi at the Bazaar” by Mojdeh Hassani

Samira and her grandmother embark on their market day adventure! Amidst the bustling bazaar, this endearing duo demonstrates their knack for staying close in this delightful picture book unfolding in Iran.

“The Proudest Blue” by Ibtihaj Muhammed

Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad and Morris Award finalist S.K. Ali deliver an inspiring and universally resonant tale about embracing new encounters, the enduring connection shared by siblings, and embracing one's identity with pride.

Beyond the Books

The journey doesn’t stop there – it extends beyond literature to the kitchen, where the aromas and flavors of the Middle East await. Here we highlight staples from Canaan Palestine – a social enterprise focused on work with artisan family farms and founded on the principals of empowering traditional farming communities. With offerings like freekah, a roasted green wheat grain, adding a nutty depth to dishes, and various tapenades infusing meals with its savory tanginess, it’s easy to add in some staples of middle eastern cooking into your own weekly meal prep.

Canaan Freekah

Freekeh is an ancient Palestinian grain that has become a hot new superfood with a smoky taste and firm texture. This wholesome specialty passed down from generation to generation is flame-roasted green wheat that is sun-dried, then crushed. Since the wheat is harvested green, it is naturally higher in nutrients, especially fiber and protein.

Canaan Tapenades

Both the Olive and Tomato variations of Wild Caper Olive Tapenade incorporate wild-gathered capers from the Palestinian hills and blend them with Canaan green olives, offering a zesty topping ideal for crackers, bread, and various other beloved snacks.

Stocking your pantry shelves with spices alongside cookbooks like “Middle Eastern Pantry,  “Arabiyya”  and “Middle Eastern Delights” offers you opportunities to transform your everyday meals into celebrations of the region’s rich heritage. . Whether you're a seasoned chef or an adventurous home cook, these cookbooks invite you to embark on a gastronomic journey that nourishes both the body and soul.

“Middle Eastern Pantry” by Lior Lev Sercarz

Delving into a wide array of Middle Eastern ingredients, both traditional and contemporary, this  book offers 90 recipes that showcase their versatility. Written by the author of "Mastering Spice" and "The Spice Companion," it is crafted for home cooks seeking not only delicious recipes but also a deeper understanding of the cultural context and origins behind them, making it a valuable resource for exploring one of the world's oldest and most cherished cuisines.

“Arabiyya” by Reem Assil

"Arabiyya" celebrates Arab cuisine's rich flavors and warm hospitality through Reem's diaspora perspective. Featuring recipes rooted in Palestinian and Syrian heritage, including flatbreads and favorites like Falafel Mahshi and Hummus Bil Awarma, the book offers insight into Arab culinary traditions and invites readers to savor a diverse array of dishes.

“Middle Eastern Delights” by Lamees Attar-Bashi

Immerse your kitchen in tantalizing scents with cardamom, rose, orange blossom, and pistachios. In this dynamic cookbook, Lamees AttarBashi presents beloved family recipes alongside her creative twists. From traditional favorites like kunafa to modern delights like manakeesh, each recipe offers a taste of Arabian bakery magic.

Browse our online store for captivating reads by Arab-American authors, along with a delectable selection of Middle Eastern cuisine essentials. Each purchase not only enriches your own experience but also supports the creators and communities behind these literary and culinary delights as well as supporting our youth run business. So, let's continue celebrating diverse voices and delicious flavors together. Happy reading and happy cooking!

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