I've just returned home from a remarkable speaking tour with author Laila El Haddad and her baby Malaak who celebrated her 1st birthday as they travelled on tour. Laila is co-author of The Gaza Kitchen: a Palestinian Culinary Journey. When co-author Maggie Schmitt cancelled due to illness, Laila and I loaded my Prius with car seat, luggage, cookbooks and as much Fair Trade Organic Olive Oil as we could fit and we set-off on tour throughout the SF Bay area, Sacramento, Grass Valley, and Sonoma.
Laila was recently featured on Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. Though little known outside the region, Gazan cooking is famous within the Arab world for its rich seafood dishes and its unique combinations of flavors: hot peppers, rich spices, fresh herbs… a cuisine that Anthony Bourdain calls “unlike anything” he’s ever tasted in the Middle East! Through her blog and book Gaza Mom and her work as a journalist, documentarian, media activist, public speaker and policy advisor she provides rare insight into the human experience of the region.
At Kitchen on Fire, we cooked a six-course meal. Class Menu:
Chef Olive regularly holds classes for young people — it will be exciting to include him as a guest speaker in the Fair Trade Jobs and Entrepreneurship program we are creating.
At Sacramento City College, Professor Riad Bahhur invited his Middle East History class and also a Women's Studies class to hear Laila's presentations. Prof. Riad used the kitchen classroom to prepare and serve the spicy red lentil & kale soup recipe! He is working with Laila on a documentary about Palestinian cuisine and he will be delighted to advise and host our Fair Trade Jobs and Entrepreneurship program at Sacramento City College.
BIG NEWS: I am happy to tell you that our project, Create Fair Trade Jobs in California, was approved for Microsoft's "Youth Spark" initiative. For 24 hours starting on December 3rd, Microsoft will be providing a 1:1 matching grant and they plan to give away $250,000 that day. The road trip was a great way to explore possibilities — this week we'll update the project description to describe our plans in detail so that we can announce the program and the matching grant at our booth at the San Francisco Green Festival this weekend on Nov. 9th and 10th. Again, thank you for your passion for Fair Trade from Palestine and your faith in Rebuilding Alliance's ability to make this Fair Trade Jobs & Entrepreneurship project take shape. Our project will have positive and tangible impact here in the U.S. and as the sales of Fair Trade olive oil go up, that impact will stretch around the world to the Palestinian Fair Trade Association’s growers and women's cooperatives! We’re so excited!
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