Gaza Kitchen cover

The Gaza Kitchen

A Palestinian Culinary Journey
by Laila El-Haddad & Maggie Schmitt

Not just a superb cookbook, a collection of vital recipes from a delicious yet often overlooked cuisine, but an argument for understanding. A classic of world food.Anthony Bourdain

The Gaza Kitchen

This award-winning cookbook by Laila El-Haddad and Maggie Schmitt shares with readers the little-known but distinctive cuisine of the Gaza region of Palestine, presenting 130 recipes collected by the authors from Gaza. Avid cooks will find in The Gaza Kitchen great, kitchen-tested recipes for Gaza’s many spicy stews, piquant dips, fragrantly flavored fish dishes, and honey-drenched desserts. But they will also be entranced by the hundreds of beautiful photos of Gazan cooks, farmers, and fresh-produce merchants at work, and by the numerous in-kitchen interviews in which these women and men tell the stories of their food, their heritage, and their families.

The recipes and stories are magically woven together, inspiring to read, to cook, and to eat. Telling us about the food of Gaza is key to understanding the people’s way of life, and this is what Laila and Maggie do so fantastically well.Yotam Ottolenghi

Anthony Bourdain, Claudia Roden, and Yotam Ottolenghi are among the many culinary figures who have embraced The Gaza Kitchen. The second edition features tantalizing new stories and recipes, a fresh new design in a beautiful hardbound volume, new photos, and an updated index. It contains the original, evocative foreword from Nancy Harmon Jenkins.

When Laila and Maggie launched this project in 2009, they wrote:

Why do we want to talk about food and cooking?

Because food is the essence of the everyday. Beyond all the discourses, the positions and the polemics, there is the kitchen.  And even in Gaza, that most tortured little strip of land, hundreds of thousands of women every day find ways to sustain their families and friends in body and spirit.  They make the kitchen a stronghold against despair, and there craft necessity into pleasure and dignity.

Gaza has a rich food tradition and a unique cuisine combining Levantine and Egyptian elements. The history of its population can be traced through its recipes, which reflect the influence of exile from all over Palestine as well as a changing society and customs. A cookbook which brings together these recipes serves as testimony to this heritage and history.

What is more, today’s kitchens can tell us much about the difficult and paradoxical realities of Gaza after three years of unrelenting siege: which products are available and where they are coming from (tunnels, local agriculture, humanitarian relief), how cooks manage with extreme shortages of gas and electricity, how families reorganize to compensate for destroyed homes and near-universal joblessness.  To spend a day with a Gazan woman doing the shopping and cooking is to understand the Palestinian reality from an entirely different – more material, more intimate – perspective. It is to appreciate the strength and endurance which allows these women every day to confront a hopeless situation and to create within it small spaces of grace, beauty and generosity.

Just World Books is honored to have been able to work with Maggie and Laila in the preparation of this unique contribution to the study of the world’s food heritage.

The Gaza Kitchen 2nd Ed. is available in Hardcover

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