The Gaza Kitchen: A stronghold against despair

The most recent trauma suffered by Palestinians in Gaza was November’s eight-day war, which resulted in a truce with Israel (so far) and recognition of Palestinian statehood by the United Nations. The eruption of conflict leads Westerners to wonder once again, who are the 1.7 million people jammed into Gaza, and what are their lives like?

A cookbook fills in some blanks for us. The Gaza Kitchen: A Palestinian Culinary Journey gives us a window into “that most tortured little strip of land” through food and cooking, which co-author Laila El-Haddad calls “the essence of the everyday.”

Beyond all the discourses, the positions and the polemics, there is the kitchen… hundreds of thousands of women every day find ways to sustain their families and friends in body and spirit.  They make the kitchen a stronghold against despair, and there craft necessity into pleasure and dignity.

The Gaza Kitchen is not only a cookbook. A lot of other things happen in the kitchen as well as cooking: conversations, the re-telling of family histories, and the daily drama of surviving and creating spaces for pleasure in an embattled place. In this book, women and men from throughout Gaza tell their stories as they relate to cooking, farming, and the food economy: personal stories, family stories, and descriptions of the broader social and economic system in which they live.

The Gaza Kitchen: A Palestinian Culinary Journey by Laila El-Haddad and Maggie Schmitt is available from Just World Books for $29.