I am the daughter of a Lebanese immigrant and an Irish businessman. The collision of cultures that defined my childhood also set the course for my future. My past, my present, and my future all have two things in common: food and storytelling.
I remember coming home from school as a child and being greeted by the enticing, savory smells of my mother cooking dinner. When my father arrived home from work, my brother and I ran excitedly to the front door to greet him, knowing that the hour or two that lay ahead of us would involve delicious Lebanese food and nonstop conversation. My dad told stories about his problem solving at work, my mom regaled us with the highlights from fascinating class discussions in her master’s program, and my brother and I shared our accounts of the highs and lows of elementary school.
Weekends were reserved for family time and even more tales told at the table. I learned from my grandma, the first exceptionally talented chef I know, that there is no better pastime than sharing a meal with those you love. Long days spent sitting around the kitchen table, nibbling on fresh hummus, homemade pita chips, or sticky baklava while listening to childhood stories from my mother’s family taught me the history of the Middle East and the legacy of family, education, and good food that lives on in me in America.
The civil war in Lebanon broke out the same year my mom was born; her childhood consisted of falling asleep to the sound of bombs exploding in nearby towns, running through fields of landmines every time she and her family had to escape their home, and learning that seeing her friends at school the next day was not guaranteed. As an impressionable child and young woman, I learned early on that what seemed to be only heartbreaking stories to me are the realities of so many still living in Lebanon.
Now, as the war rages on still in Lebanon, and its people continue hurting, my mom does her best to pay tribute to her country through her values, her education and her cooking. She fled Lebanon with her family as a teen in search of safety and access to education; she immigrated to the United States and dedicated herself to achieving the highest level of education so that she can set a good example for me and raise me in the same values of family, education, and good food that she learned from her country. She is now a proud University of La Verne graduate with a doctoral degree.
The values of family, education and my heritage, tied together with food and storytelling, have been passed to me. The honor of continuing that legacy is now mine.
As you dig into the stories, this proud editor-in-chief bids you bon appetite!