“We are two million people, just humans like everyone else in the world, waking up to life every day and looking for the chance to be happy.” —Omar Gharib
Gazan cuisine, says cookbook author Yasmin Khan, is known for its abundant use of dill. The fragrant herb joins garlic and chillies to form a “holy trinity” that gives its fish and seafood-centered dishes a distinct flavor palate.
It’s easy to view the occupied Palestinian territories only as a battle zone. And it’s important to highlight the routine indignities of living in a colonized land. But Palestine is also a place where peasant farmers and seedkeepers manage precious ecosystems and resources and where ordinary people find ways—through food, music, and daily life—to preserve and celebrate culture. In Khan’s book Zaitoun: Recipes from the Palestinian Kitchen, Gazan blogger and journalist Omar Gharib shares:
“People in Gaza really love life… We don’t take life for granted. If there is darkness, we manage to find some light; if there is ugliness, we manage to find some beauty; if there is despair, we find or create some hope. It is something that we have developed, like a skill. This is the image of Gaza I would like people to know about. It’s not just a place of death and destruction and bombs and dying and Hamas and Fatah and Israel and war and borders, we are not only that. We are two million people, just humans like everyone else in the world, waking up to life every day and looking for the chance to be happy.”
The best antidote to the daily barrage of tragic news from around the world—from the colonial occupation of Palestine to Covid-19 devastation in India to violent repression in Colombia (bound by a common thread of racial capitalism & imperialism)—is not to shutter ourselves from these tragedies, but to find meaning in connection.
In the US, many of us regularly enjoy the flavors of the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America through restaurants, food trucks, and cookbooks from the diaspora. Instead of disconnected consumption, we can choose to be in relationship with the places we enjoy through food… and that means solidarity: holding our policymakers accountable for US foreign policies (like arms sales) and supporting mutual aid, grassroots media, and activist groups when we can afford to do so.
We’ve listed a few actions you can take, and Palestinian organizations to follow and support, below (let us know of others we can share by tagging @realfoodmedia).
In global solidarity,
Tanya, Tiffani, Christina, and Anna