Quick Eats from Around the World
These cuisines represent cultures, love, and a multitude of memories.
When Manal moved to New York City in 2013, she was disappointed with the quality of the supermarket hummus — it didn’t even come close to the amazing taste and texture of her grandmother’s recipe back home in Lebanon. Craving a taste of home, she began to make batches of her Syrian grandmother’s hummus regularly, and word got out among her friends in New York. They raved about it so much that she asked herself, “Why not share this hummus with everyone?”
What she quickly realized was that the success had only a little to do with the hummus itself and much more to do with the story behind it. It carried memories from a faraway and mysterious land. Her audience had heard of Syria in the news, but under much different circumstances — they were familiar with a country ravaged by fighting, not with stories of a rich, generational food culture. This recipe conveyed memories of happiness, a far cry from the wars and violence that our guests heard about on the news.
And so it has been for many people who’ve fled their home countries looking for a better life, often leaving everything behind except for the beautiful memories immortalized in the recipes they brought along with them. These tasty dishes represent cultures in which cooking is valued as an act of love for family, not just an elevated art that professionals practice in restaurants.
With this seed of an idea, Eat Offbeat — a catering company that hires talented refugees who’ve come to call New York City home and serves their dishes to businesses and individuals across the city — began.
We hope that as you read these recipes and sit down to share this food with others, you’ll allow the story of our common human experience to serve as a platform for deeper connection. We also hope these recipes will help you learn about our team at Eat Offbeat, especially our chefs, and maybe give you a different perspective on who we all are and where we all come from.
Most importantly, as you prepare these delicious recipes, don’t forget to mix in your own version of love, passion, and pride — three truly essential ingredients for the success of every dish!
Also known as sabaa Baharat (“suh-buh bah-ha-raht”), this blend of spieces is found throughout the Middle East and Greece. Though the spices and herbs used vary from cuisine to suisine and household to household, the aromatic mix usually includes allspice, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and cloves. You’ll often find it labeled as “Lebanese seven spices” or “Moroccan seven spices.”
Excerpted from The Kitchen Without Borders: Recipes and Stories from Refugee and Immigrant Chefs by The Eat Offbeat Chefs. Workman Publishing © 2021.
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