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<style>.post-40303 .entry-title{color: }</style>314
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<style>.post-40303 .entry-title{color: }</style>314

Bethlehem: A Celebration of Palestinian Food

By Fadi Kattan

Hardie Grant North America, May 2024, $40

Hardcover, 239 pages, illustrations in full color

At a time when Israel is executing a horrendous genocide in Gaza, and the people of the “land that never goes hungry” are being starved, it feels a little disconcerting to be coming out with a cookbook. But as soon as I started writing, I was allowed to do so in the pages of This Week in Palestine. Sani and the team have always shone the light brightly on  Palestine’s culture, going above and beyond to protect and safeguard our identity.

I started writing the book two years ago, but the ideas have been in my head for longer, being kindled every time I chatted with guests at Fawda restaurant and café at the Hosh Al-Syrian Guesthouse in Bethlehem. The conversation often led the guests to ask how they could visit the souk in Bethlehem, where I buy my spices, and I realized the importance of sharing the story of the food of this city, which is the story of each family in Bethlehem.

In Bethlehem: A Celebration of Palestinian Food, I decided to share recipes that are simple in the making but complex in flavors. Many of them are traditional recipes such as mousakhan and qidreh, some are family recipes like my mother’s lentil soup from my great-grandmother’s Rosto Mariam formula. Some are my take on Palestinian flavors such as a simple roasted tomato salad with laban jameed or a humble fig salad with sumac and olive oil.

When I began to write, it was exceedingly difficult to select who to profile alongside the recipes because I have been blessed to have met and been taught by so many exceptional cooks. The choices were tough, particularly because the people in the book are family and friends – from the superb Hussam Hallak who produces with his father the best salt I have ever tasted, to my mother Micheline, who taught me so much of what I know in the kitchen.

When I saw the book in its printed version, it was magical. I was quite overwhelmed, reflecting on all the fantastic people who had made it possible, those who gave me their stories, those who taught me how to cook, and those who preserve our Palestinian cuisine every day through the simple act of cooking.

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