Growing up in Canada, my parents did their best to preserve traditions and culture. They spoke Arabic at home, my mother cooked traditional dishes and we often heard stories of their childhood in Palestine.
Every meal my family shared together was special. I remember how my father would always joyfully and enthusiastically compliment my mother’s cooking. He was, to say the least, partial to her food! It was also during those beautiful family meals that my father would share interesting stories about his childhood in Palestine, a place he deeply missed.
Food was an important part of our household because it brought us together as a family. My mother is an impeccable cook and, after getting married and leaving her parent’s home at a young age, she learned so many of the traditional Palestinian dishes from her maternal aunt who was just like a grandmother to my siblings and I, we even called her “Teta” (Arabic for grandma). One of Teta Suad’s specialities was Kibbeh, more specifically Kibbeh bi Laban, my all-time favourite dish. As they say, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”. It is also a favourite of my daughter’s and, in true Palestinian grandmother style, my mom always prepares a batch of her delicious crispy kibbeh balls specially for my daughter to enjoy when we visit Toronto during the summer. I am grateful that so many wonderful recipes and culinary techniques have been lovingly passed on to me through my mom and my Teta.
I have always felt connected to my roots through the beautiful meals my mother cooked for us. Food is an important part of heritage and it brings upon nostalgia and memories of past generations. I’ve never been to Palestine, but my husband and I hope to one day visit with our daughter and give her, and ourselves, the opportunity to continue to learn more about our Palestinian history.
This Ramadan, I hosted a Palestinian ‘iftar’ dinner for my ladies book club and created a few contemporary twists to some traditional recipes. I’m happy to share a few of my favourite recipes with you – Enjoy and Ramadan Kareem.
Minced meat stuffed Phyllo Cigars
Beetroot Hummus with Pita Crisps
Born and raised in Toronto, Canada, Tanya knew that Palestine was her symbolic homeland. Always curious about her identity and connecting with her roots, she was eager to strengthen her ties to the Levant and traveled the region, desperate to learn more. It wasn’t until her first trip to Palestine that she became spiritually and emotionally connected.
She studied Political Science and Sociology at the University of Toronto. She then moved to the UAE, supporting numerous NGOs related to children’s welfare in the region. When she had her own family, she created the My Olive Roots platform in the hopes that her children and the Arabs diaspora would have a place to connect, learn and preserve their roots. Tanya enjoys discovering humanist stories and exploring the connection of food and art with culture.