Arab-American women have a reputation for being extraordinary cooks (easy… before you call me a male chauvinist pig, remember I’m a girl and I’m paying a compliment to my fellow female gourmands and gastronomic creators.)
Middle Eastern recipes are often passed down through families, although in my house, I claim my baba ganoush isn’t a patch on my mother’s who claims hers is not as good as my grandmothers… which means, historically, armies must have faltered and monarchs swooned as the eggplants got mashed in the kitchens of my matriarchal ancestors.
Cooking Up a Storm
Arab American women have not only proved consistent culinary prowess but are also taking it to new heights and wavelengths and permeating kitchens across the USA thanks to the Internet.
There’s a great article in the Saudi Gazette about two such fabulous tech-savvy female Arab-American chefs: Denise Hazime, Lebanese co-founder of DedeMed.com, and Alia Al-Kasimi, masterchef of Cooking with Alia: a menagerie of mouthwatering cuisine know-how and recipes from her native Morocco.
Both these incredible women promote the delicious alchemy of Middle Eastern food over the net, having earned glory among family and friends for their sorcery in the kitchen.
The Queen of Hummus
Denise (a.k.a Dede) seeks (and deserves) a royal title for her hummus. Thanks to the 7000+ hits on her YouTube vids and website, not to mention her Facebook page, she’s winning the hearts and appetites of followers around the USA and the world.
But where there is form there is substance: ingredients are paramount, as she told America.gov: “We want to bring good food to people who are interested in eating healthy.”
A fluent Arabic speaking first generation Arab American of Lebanese roots, Denise grew up cooking with her mum and aunts at the family home in Michigan. After moving to California, kudos and requests for her mouthwatering recipes wafted in from friends.
Today, she works in finance and turns her hand to her culinary wizardry outside of working hours. In 2007 Denise joined forces with partner Cristantos Hajibrahim, to upload a few cookery vids on YouTube. 9 months and several more videos and hearty meals later the duo co-founded DedeMed.com.
Two years later. Hazime’s video hummus recipe rules YouTube. DedeMed.com has an online store, and further business ventures in the pipeline include restaurants, an online cooking show and a product line.
Makes your mouth water just thinking about it. Hmmm, hmmm, huuuuuuuuuummmmmusssssss.
A Moroccan Twist
If Denise is the Queen of Hummus, Moroccan born Al-Kasimi is the Countess of Couscous. Based in New Jersey and an insurance worker by day, Alia admits she couldn’t cook at all when she first got to the the US but homesickness for the sumptuous tastes of her homeland became overwhelming.
A Taste of Home
Her grandmother visited in 2007 and the pair cooked together at home, debuting a dinner party for friends on YouTube. They got a great response, and like Denise, Alia now has her own website, Cooking with Alia and keeps in touch with her online visitors, blogs and has a Facebook profile.
Now the Moroccan Masterchef is re-launching site and holds Moroccan cooking classes at the nearby Whole Foods In December 2009, she auctioned cooking services as a local food bank fundraiser.
Alia has launched the Flavors of Morocco instant food line and written a cookbook entitled Moroccan Cooking the Easy Way, which will be available next month via her site.