From ELLEToday bestseller author Yasmin Khan publishes her second cookbook, Zaitoun: recipes and stories from Palestinian cuisine. The cookbook is already a bestseller in the UK and combines travel with recipes, where readers are informed about Palestinian culture and geography, as well as aromatic cuisine; it is opened with three regional hummus recipes, followed by recipes for fried chicken with sumac (mussakhan) and a turmeric-and-cumin cauliflower soup, her personal favorite.Zaitoun (Arabic for "olive") symbolizes both peace and steadfastness. The olive tree, a regional indigenous, is known for its ability to withstand storms. "Just like the olive trees, our roots are deep and connected to this land," says Fadi Najir, a Haifa restaurant owner in the book. "Regardless of what changes above, we are rooted here." With the 87 recipes of the cookbook Khan introduces Palestinian men and women, such as Najir, who invited the traveling chef to their home. "Palestinians want people to realize that they are human, just like you and me," says Khan. Chan, 37, entered the food world at the roundabout. She spent the aughts as a London activist, lobbied both British MPs and laymen about human rights violations in the Middle East. In 2011 she had reached the complete exhaustion of the body. "I had burned the candle on both sides, tried to be everything for everyone and forget myself in the middle," she says. "I put my head in my hands, my elbows on the table and just started to cry." A medical diagnosis confirmed the symptoms: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Then – in what she has called her "Eat pray love moment "- she leased her Hackney flat and declaimed to Thai beaches for four months, eventually returning to the Iranian farm of her family near the Caspian Sea, a 33-acre vast rice fields, pomegranates and persimmons" Then, as during her non-profit years, food served as Khan's reassuring ointment, and she found her solution in cookbooks on the advice of friends, when Khan met her late chef and author Anthony Bourdain, she had recently made her debut. released in 2016, Saffron Tales: recipes from Persian cuisine, a culinary homage to her Iranian family. In Khan, the late Bourdain found a comrade who also used food as a vehicle to dismantle cultural clichés: "My passion for changing the world, challenging stereotypes and giving a voice to people who normally do not have it, that is still there, "she says. "I grew up against the background of being Iranian," says Khan, whose mother is Iranian; her father, Pakistani. "I persecuted close family members by the Islamic regime, jailed, tortured, executed, and that was always my motivation: do not let other families go through what we experienced." Before his death, Bourdain called Zaitoun "Moving, empathetic, enormously knowledgeable and absolutely delicious."
Photo credit: Matt RussellMore
When did you start cooking?
My mother says I started cooking around my tenth. I announced to her that I did not like her food, which is ridiculous because she is such a good cook. I was a cheeky little child. My family is a farmer in the north of Iran, so when we had our vacation in the summer, my cousins and I would have this playground of a rice farm to run around, pick apples or pomegranates, or help my grandmother to butter turn milk. It installed love for food and cooking.
When did you know that you were suffering from activism?
It happened over time. So often in the world today, when we are tired, we have a coffee; if we have a headache, we take medicines. We are told that we must push and suppress how we feel. But this was exhaustion on a level that I had never felt before. One day I went to the office and said to my boss: "I think I should make some time free." I thought, "I can not do this anymore." I kept repeating it and I started to cry. He said, "Maybe you should go home."
How did you reconcile that emotionally?
So much of my identity, from the age of eighteen, was about being an activist. So if I do not do this, who am I? What is my value? What is my value?Photo credit: Matt RussellMore
Do you still consider yourself an activist?
I really do that. I feel that I can do it in a more positive, connecting and creative way. And look, I do not think my cookbooks will change the political world order, but what I've learned is that human rights violations take place when the population is dehumanized. That is what happened in Germany in the Second World War. In my work, I say, let's take a look at the richness of the history of people, whose cultures you associate with violence, and use the refinement of their kitchen and the joy of their daily lives. <H3 class = "canvas-atom canvas-text Mb (1.0em) Mb (0) – sm Mt (0.8em) – sm" type = "text" content = "It seems like a perfect way to talk about Zaitoun and Palestinian cuisine. "data-reactid =" 87 "> This seems like a perfect way to talk about Zaitoun and Palestinian cuisine.
I actually think we are in a unique time. Through social media and news reports from the region, I think we see a new wave of support for the Palestinian cause. It gives me hope.
Who are your heroes who do this type of writing in the food world?
Anthony Bourdain, Ruth Reichl and Claudia Roden. She wrote The Book of Jewish Food: An Odyssey from Samarkand to New York. It is so & # 39; s incredible anthology and anthropological study of various Jewish cuisines from around the world.
What did you learn from your work with Anthony Bourdain?
He wanted to speak from the heart and let people tell their own stories. So many artists censor themselves. The biggest thing I got from Tony was the confidence to tell these stories. People have more in common than what separates us.Zaitoun is now for sale.(& # 39; You Might Also Like & # 39 ;,)