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Thursday, November 30, 2023

“Preserving Palestinian Culinary Heritage: Dubai Resident Upholds Tradition Through Food”

When Haya Bishouty inaugurated her sufra, an intimate dinner series, the blend of pride and tension set the tone. Born out of a desire to uphold Palestinian culinary traditions, each dish became a bridge to a culture often overshadowed. In this exploration, Haya’s Kitchen, launched three years ago, serves as both homage and tribute to Palestinian heritage.

The Culinary Journey

Wearing her grandmother’s dotted thobe, Bishouty embarked on a journey to preserve fading traditions. The sufras, meaning dining table in Arabic, offered an intimate experience for around 10 people – family, friends, and acquaintances. Through curated meals, Bishouty, now 33, aimed to transport guests, if only for a few hours, to the land of her ancestors.

Beyond Flavors: Challenging Misconceptions

For Bishouty, the sufras transcend culinary events; they are sensory explorations challenging misconceptions about Palestinian food. With Haya’s Kitchen, she emphasizes the unique flavors native to Palestine and encourages diners to understand the stories behind each dish. Breaking down cultural barriers, Bishouty uses shared meals to connect people.

The Tactile Experience: Eating with Hands

Musakhan, Palestine’s “national dish,” is meant to be eaten with hands. Bishouty believes this connects diners to the essence of the food, transferring the cook’s soul (nafas) to the dish. It’s a tactile experience that goes beyond taste, reinforcing the cultural significance of each bite.

Seasonality and Tradition

Highlighting the importance of seasonality, Bishouty educates diners about preserving fruits during winter, a tradition in Palestinian cuisine. Through sufras, she aims to deepen people’s understanding of the history, culture, and traditions woven into each Palestinian dish.

Intimate Gatherings at The Flip Side

Her community dinners, hosted at The Flip Side in Alserkal Avenue, Dubai, bring together a maximum of 14 guests. Complemented by workshops teaching Palestinian culinary skills, Bishouty creates an immersive experience that goes beyond the taste buds.

Supporting Palestinian Suppliers

Firm in her commitment to preserving Palestinian culture, Bishouty supports Palestinian suppliers. Her husband, Shadi Megallaa, owner of The Flip Side, has been a pillar of support, encouraging her on this meaningful journey.

Culinary Heritage Thriving

In a world where identities can be lost, Bishouty’s sufras become a poignant reminder that Palestinian food and culture are not fading away – they are thriving with every shared meal.

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