Arab American Taam: Baklavism

Posted by Beshouy Botros on August 06, 2015 in Blog
The most anticipated guests at Arab religious celebrations, weddings, and gatherings are the sweets, and among them Baklava emerges as the guest of honor. Baklava is claimed as a national dessert and favorite of dozens of countries in the eastern Mediterranean region. From Hungary to Iran, peoples abide by their own cult of Baklavism, in which matters of filling, syrup, and dough assume religious gravity.
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Allow My Dress to Introduce Me

Posted by Neveen Hammad on August 04, 2015 in Blog
When a Palestinian woman wears her thobe, or traditional Palestinian dress, she is displaying her heritage on her sleeves. Palestinian embroidery, or tatreez, is the artwork featured on each woman’s thobe, and the shapes and colors of the tatreez can be read to understand a woman’s background, heritage, and struggle. Tatreez dates back to the 8th century CE, and the arrangement of colors and patterns typically indicate what village a woman is from. Although it is most often found on women’s thobe, this embroidery is also exhibited on pillowcases and other home accessories. Tatreez embroidery is typically created separately on small pieces of cloth then sown onto larger fabric pieces. Common tatreez designs include geometric shapes and elements of nature, including the sun, moon, stars, mountains, and water. This embroidery is a woman’s form of expression. If a woman from Hebron desires to have children, she would embroider a doll figure on her thobe. Women from the village of Beit Dajan often embroider orange blossoms because that village is known for its orange orchards.
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"Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet" In Theatres

Posted by Arab American Institute on July 30, 2015 in Blog
“Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet” is being released in the United States in select theaters beginning August 7th in both New York and LA.
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Arab American Taam: Alcohol is Arabic

Posted by Beshouy Botros on July 28, 2015 in Blog
Alcohol is Arabic. Quite literally the etymology of the word ‘alcohol’ points modern readers and consumers to layered, and often buried, roots in the Middle East. Al-kohl once referred to the metallic powder used as eye shadow, and was thereafter used to describe a family of beverages. Arabs are not only to credit for the word alcohol, but spirits themselves have a rich history rooted in medieval and pre-Islamic Arabic culture. Beer and wine have existed for millennia, but spirits as we know them today are a fairly recent phenomena dating back a little over a thousand years. Spirits are products of a chemistry that was revolutionized by the early Arabs. Brewers practiced a science now known as alchemy in order to distill strong liquors and fortify beers, most failed. The term alchemy points to further Arabic origins, al-kimia, or the Arabic word for chemistry practiced in Kemet (or Egypt) allowed Arabs scientists to go beyond their Roman and Greek contemporaries.
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Yemen at Risk

Posted by Neveen Hammad on July 24, 2015 in Blog
Thousands of years of rich, Arab values and Islamic culture were destroyed instantly on June 12th in Yemen this year when a nighttime airstrike executed by Saudi Arabia severely damaged the Old City of Sana’a. As Yemen’s capital and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sana’a has been inhabited for over 2,500 years and holds great political and religious value to Arabs and Muslims, especially those of Yemeni descent. According to UNESCO, from the 7th century on, Sana’a was a major influence for spreading the Islamic faith. This is demonstrated in the archaeological remains in the Great Mosque, which was allegedly built during the Prophet Mohammad’s lifetime. By the 11th century, Yemenis built 103 mosques throughout Sana’a.
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Arab American Taam: Hummus Politics

Posted by Beshouy Botros on July 23, 2015 in Blog
For a proper journey through the Middle Eastern dinner table it is best to begin with the basics- hummus may be the single most widely recognizable element of Arab cuisine, with a rich history and occasional controversy. People have been eating chickpeas for millennia, but legend has it that Saladin, Sultan of Egypt and Syria was the first to prepare hummus in the 12th century.
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The Best Medicine

Posted by Gabrielle Borg on July 14, 2015 in Blog
The Fighting-Bigotry-With-Delightful-Posters Campaign has filed a lawsuit against the New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority for refusing to put up their funny posters about Muslims. The campaign, spearheaded by comedians Arab American Dean Obeidallah and Iranian American Negin Farsad, features ads like, “Beware! The Muslims Are Coming! And they shall strike with hugs so fierce that you’ll end up calling your grandmother and telling her you love her!” and “Muslims! They invented coffee, the toothbrush and algebra. Oh wait, sorry about the algebra. That’s a year of class you’ll never get back.” After working with the group to revise the posters for months and officially approving the ads in early April, the MTA suddenly changed its policies.Obeidallah and Farsad said “We were told that come April 28, 2015, funny Muslim ads would be gracing 140 subway stations… Then on April 29, the MTA changed its regulations about acceptable posters. The new policy restricted ‘disputed political content’—maybe the MTA considers Muslims who like frittatas ‘disputed political content.’”
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Arab American Taam: Soul Food

Posted by Beshouy Botros on July 09, 2015 in Blog
On July 9, the Arab American Institute will host its Annual Arab American Generations Iftar to bring together local Arab Americans and raise money for Basmeh and Zeitooneh, a grassroots Beirut-based organization, dedicated to serving Syrian refugees and vulnerable communities in Lebanon. With only two weeks left in Ramadan, Muslims everywhere are making the most of this time to pray, reflect, and heal. Fasting has had especially marked effects on Middle Eastern and Arab peoples and by extension their cuisines. Fasting practices are as diverse as the people of the Middle East. Ramadan of course entails abstaining from food and water from sunrise until sunset. Breaking fast with dates, one of the most ancient crops from the Middle East, is a nearly ubiquitous tradition that unifies the ummah. For nomadic peoples, date palms, which are indigenous to desert climates, have long provided protein, energy, and a delectable treat. Yet dates are much more than a convenient snack, they are ordained. The Hadith ties this age-old tradition to the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, who is said to have always broken fast with dates and water.
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Carnegie Corporation of New York Honors Syrian American Composer Malek Jandali

Posted by David Curtis on July 09, 2015 in Blog
Every year since 2006, the Carnegie Corporation of New York has recognized immigrants to the United States who it considers to be the “Pride of America.” Over the July 4th weekend, world-renowned Syrian American composer and pianist Malek Jandali joined this distinguished list of naturalized Americans – which include the likes of Madeleine Albright, Yo-Yo Ma, and Isaac Asimov.
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Arab American Taam: The Arab Grocery

Posted by Beshouy Botros on July 08, 2015 in Blog
Middle Eastern food is far more complicated than it is presented in the menus of tacky shisha bars and so-called Mediterranean restaurants. Every dish has several different names, regional versions, and each one has its own story. These are stories of power, culture, identity, and memory-- tales that illuminate an intricate mosaic of spices, sweets, and sumptuous dishes with regional and national character. Nowhere is this poetry more evident than in the aisles of an Arab grocery. These stores invoke the souk, the marketplaces of Middle Eastern heritage and in so doing they curate a nostalgia for new immigrants and Arab Americans alike. It is in these indoor souks that we find sights, smells, and tastes we are deeply acquainted with, we hear Arabic we recognize (or Arabic we cannot understand), and witness the same aunties scrutinizing tomatoes, cucumbers, and greens. For those of us lucky enough to live reasonably close to one of these stores, these aisles become well-worn territory. Otherwise, a trip to the Arab market becomes a seasonal treat – a pilgrimage a whole family undertakes to stock up for Eid. Regardless of the distance, a trip to an Arab grocery store is always emotion laden, and regardless of the frequency with which a group treks to this hallowed ground it is an occasion.
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