It was Bait al KARAMA’s association with the Slow Food Movement that intrigued me from afar and led me to its soaring doors on only my second day in Palestine. A smiling woman, Hanaam, greeted me at my taxi and I could tell, by her welcoming face, that I was in for an unforgettable day! She led me through the winding streets of Old City Nablus—past overflowing carts of oranges, knafeh vendors, and somber memorials—pointing out the sights and answering my barrage of questions. After hearing that I’ve a particular interest in all things preserved and pickled, Hanaam led me to the “oldest man in Nablus” who gave us a taste of his turnips, which were pickling in neon pink brine! Hanaam taught me to shop for the best pita, the brightest lemons, and the strongest coffee.
We arrived at Bait al KARAMA’s sunny kitchen with bags full of fresh food and hearty appetites! Together with women from the neighborhood, we discussed the day’s menu over a breakfast of Nabulsi cheese, olives, pita, and tea. Then, it was time to cook! We hollowed out turnips, stirred tahini smooth, and explored the kitchen’s endless cabinet of spices, as women shared with me old family recipes and tales of life in Palestine.
Nabulsi women, young and old, visited Bait al KARAMA that day—they came for camaraderie, classes, advice from social workers, and to lend their own culinary secrets to my recipe book. They told me how Bait al KARAMA—an organization focused on advancing the socio-economic role of Palestinian women, run entirely by women—helped them to find a livelihood, to deal with a child’s injury, and to find an outlet for their voices. I was not only touched by the women’s openness, but by their strength, their talents, and especially by their laughter.
We shared an incredible lunch together—the type of authentic, local, home-cooked meal that most travelers only dream of eating (and cooking!) in a foreign country. As we said our long goodbyes, it was clear that I’d not only tasted the Palestinian cuisine I’d been hoping for, but also a slice of its inspiring women’s movement.
About the Author:
Bait al Karama offers cooking classes, culinary tours, and dining options for male and female visitors. Their class offerings are flexible and customizable—ranging from three-hour cooking tutorials to a four-day agricultural tours. Bait al Karama is located in Nablus, West Bank and is easily accessible by car and shared taxi. Email firstname.lastname@example.org in advance to arrange a visit.