*EAST COAST MEETS WEST*
Recipe: Persimmon Cranberry Sauce

December 10, 2012

Falling in love with a place is much like falling in love with a person. For a while, this place can do no wrong; its flaws all have silver linings; each street, shop, and tree possesses some sort of magic to hold your fascination. Inevitably, the novelty of its newness will fade. The place won’t just be a place anymore—it will be a part of you. It will frustrate you and humble you and excite you and teach you about yourself and humanity. And one day, if you leave, you will face the jarring realization that it will always be a part of you and you will always miss it, even if you never want to return.

The first time I had such a realization was in 2010 when I moved back to the US from Egypt. Standing in the back yard of my parent’s house in New York, looking at the forest and the fallen leaves and the patches of melting snow that were so poignantly not Egypt, I knew that wherever I was, I’d feel a longing for the place that I wasn’t. Even now I sometimes stumble into a vivid flashback of the vegetable market near my apartment in Giza or the filthy roach-infested dive bar that I loved for the diptych of the owner and Gamal Abdel Nasser at the entrance. Sometimes I want to be standing on a hill in al-Azhar Park at dusk listening to the hum of mosques as they slowly join the call to prayer.

Now that I live in California, I feel the same longing for New York—for a hike on the Appalachian Trail when the leaves are changing color; for a coffee in Riverside Park when the tulips are in bloom; for a cross-country ski with my dad through sparkling fresh snow and icicle trees. Southern California, I already know, will always be a part of me too, and one day, if I leave, I’ll miss its friendly, politically engaged atmosphere and its barren alien landscape.

Perhaps it’s time for me to stop moving before my self is a collection of fragments scattered around the globe! Continue reading

*EGYPT: A GASTRONOMIC GUIDE*
Recipe: Chicken with “Molokheya”

February 21, 2012

In the Arab world, Egypt is known for its music and movies. In fact, Cairo was once called “Hollywood on the Nile.” The rest of the world associates Egypt with the Pyramids, and now, unfortunately, the Muslim Brotherhood. No one regards Egypt for its cuisine. Gastronomically speaking, Egypt is to the Middle East as Britain is to Europe.

This is not an entirely fair assessment, however. Egyptian food can actually be quite good, but it’s hard to find because Egypt doesn’t have a thriving restaurant culture. Most people eat at home, and while home-cooked food can be fantastic (my Egyptian friend’s mother is one of the best home cooks I know), restaurant food is not. That’s why I put together this incomprehensive guide to restaurants in Egypt, which is really just a list of my favorite things to eat there, in no particular order:

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