The mid-section of Maggie and Laila‘s time in New York took them to four gigs. These were at All Souls Unitarian Church on the Upper East Side, NYU’s acclaimed Food Studies Center, a private event hosted by the Institute for Middle East Understanding at Manhattan’s swanky Ilili restaurant– and to a guest-cooking demo in the kitchens of Saveur magazine! (For details, read on.) The Gaza Kitchen: A Palestinian Culinary Journey continues to impress at every event, making waves in the NYC social scene and leaving a buzz of interest in their wake. You’ve already heard the bare bones of the first two events, but stick around… Like The Gaza Kitchen‘s moving stories about food, life, and family in the Gaza Strip, the most powerful and compelling parts of any good story are in the details.
Hosted by the All Souls Unitarian Church, Laila and Maggie’s first official PowerPoint presentation of The Gaza Kitchen occurred on Day Three of their grand NYC tour. Falling on an altogether rainy and miserable day, the whole affair was made even more intimate and cozy by the horrendous weather; the escape from the rain into a lovely church filled with great conversation and the promise of new friends proved to be the exact equation for a picture-perfect atmosphere. Comprised of a brown-bag lunch, a presentation of the book given by Maggie and Laila, and an in-depth question-and-answer session, it was a lovely affair. Conversation flowed, new friends were made, and the authors did an excellent job of giving their first official PowerPoint presentation of their Gazan experiences before an audience and answering all of the questions about the intersection of politics, family, and food in the Gaza Strip that their intelligent fans had to offer!
That same day, the ladies visited the NYU Food Studies Center to deliver a similar presentation to an audience with an entirely different set of questions; this time, the ladies were grilled on all things gastronomical in Gazan cuisine by some of the greatest aspiring aficionados of the culinary arts in NYC. Not only did the ladies handle the questions with an ease, leaping every intellectual hurdle with grace, but they did so while proving that they could balance the demands of work and family at the same time; this was a presentation open to both adults and the smallest members of the ladies’ entourage! It was a long day for the authors, but one delightful dinner out and about in NYC and a little sleep later, the show went on!
That next night, Day Four of the tour, the ladies attended a social event hosted by the Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU) at the chic Mediterranean restaurant Ilili. To say that the night was a success would be an understatement; the acclaim for The Gaza Kitchen (and the authors’ signatures) was astronomical! The room was filled to the brim with happening people, all of whom were already extraordinarily knowledgeable about the Middle East, but Maggie and Laila still found their opinions and knowledge highly sought-after! The authors did a magnificent job; everyone left the restaurant with a great appreciation for Laila and Maggie’s hard work to bring the humanity of the Gaza Strip to the United States, where the media is inundated with reports of the horrors and inhumanity of war but entirely lacking in empathy and understanding. The Gaza Kitchen clearly has much to teach the world, especially that despite differences in culture, families live and love in the Gaza Strip just like everywhere else.
In yet another validation of the culinary worth of The Gaza Kitchen, Laila and Maggie were invited to the test kitchen of Saveur to showcase a few of their recipes, where they spent quite a few busy hours cooking up a storm on Thursday, Day Five. Did we mention that the culinary magazine will be running a piece on The Gaza Kitchen in the next few months? Stay tuned, we’ll let you know about it as soon as it’s hot off the press! But back to business; despite the challenge of finding out they would be cooking for the entire office of Saveur on rather short notice, the ladies pulled off the three dishes, Maqlouba, Salata Gazawiyya, and Saniyit Hulba, without a hitch. Even the Maqlouba, notoriously tricky to keep in one piece because it needs to be flipped upside-down out of the pan, was a success despite a few tense moments! (Don’t worry, it was captured on camera and can be viewed on our Facebook page!) The meal turned out beautifully, successfully feeding all 15 members of the feast and tasting absolutely divine. Well done, ladies!
If you’re in the NYC area and want to catch the authors before they head off to Washington, D.C., not to fear! There are still a few events at which you can meet the authors and pick up a copy of The Gaza Kitchen or Gaza Mom (or both!) Tonight at 7pm, there will be a talk at the CUNY Grad Center, details here. And their last event in NYC will be held at Tanoreen restaurant in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn– tomorrow (Saturday), 12:30 to 3:00 pm.
Next week, Maggie and Laila will be heading to Washington, DC (March 21-28)… and the week after that to Boston… Keep checking back with the Tour calendar for updates on where they’ll be.
Even if you’re unable to attend any of these events, remember that both books are available for purchase at our website, Just World Books.