Honoring the Women of Palestine
Today, I'm welcoming Mai of Almond & Fig to the podcast so that, together, we can all honor Mai's grandmother, her beloved Teta.
Mai’s grandmother was born in Palestine long before 1948, when the international community took it upon themselves to declare that parts of her Palestine as the new nation of Israel. She was a young woman when she saw the suffering of 1967, and already a grandmother many times over by the first Intifada of 1987, when both of her sons were arrested. One of those sons, Mai's father, was imprisoned for a year, without charges or evidence of those charges in the Negev desert. At night, he and fellow prisoners took shifts watching for dangerous wild animals. Later, Teta Um Hanna's grandsons, Mai's brothers, were arrested in the second Intifada. Although they were juveniles, they were tried and imprisoned as adults. Victimized by the occupation until the very end, Teta Um Hanna's ambulance was stopped and searched by Israeli’s soldiers as she was rushed, dying, into Jerusalem. This is a difficult thing for any family to accept.
However, we do not join Mai in honoring Teta Um Hanna because she suffered these things. Rather, we honor Teta Um Hanna because of the things she did with her life: She raised her siblings, her children, her grandchildren with love and patience. She joined countless other Palestinian women in preserving their culture & recipes, becoming breadwinners, nurturing children made fatherless through resistence, and feeding their entire worlds. How did she manage to do these things? She did them all through her garden, her cooking, and the joy she took in both.
Regardless of our politics (which may or may not be influenced by Mai's powerful story), today, Listener, you and I are coming together to honor this small but mighty woman, [name], and the many other women she represents. Here is Mai.
- “From the moment she wakes up, she thinks, ‘What should they be eating?’”
- The 4 men in Mai’s family who were arrested - why, where they went, and the conditions
- How Mai’s grandmother, her Teta stepped in with her “fatherless” grandkids - and how she loved with food
- Teta’s remedies 🙂
- What does it mean “This is a day to day occupation?”
- “We did not commit the Holocaust. We had no part in the Holocaust. But we are paying for the Holocaust.”
- Why is 1948 so significant?
- Mai’s personal experiences with Israeli soldiers when she was just 10 years old
- Palestinians and Hamas - not one and the same; Mai’s perspective on Hamas
- How Mai’s grandmother died as a direct result of checkpoints
- How Mai thought food would be an escape, but the more she realized that food and recipes are political.
- “Palestinian food is political… Palestinian recipes are political… Anything with the word Palestine is political… My entire existence is Political.”
- Mai’s shock at the freedom Americans have to raise their own flags - it was an act of victory to carry their flag
- The joy her Teta found “even in chopping onions”
- Musalwa’a: Palestinian Lentils and Rice - a humble dish that is Mai’s comfort food
- Sumac onions - the proper way to make them!!
- Teta’s answer to “How will I know there is enough cumin?”
- Red lentils vs. Brown lentils
Also listen on:
How To Contact Mai
Resources About the History of Palestine
- See Mai’s Teta making Musalwa’a on Instagram
- Short video Mai shared illustrating history of Palestine
- Can Palestinians return? Points from @letstalkpalestine on Instagram:
- The Partition Plan of 1947 from @letstalkpalestine on Instagram
About Seraj Libraries
Mai is on the board of the non-profit Seraj Libraries, which aims to provide a community library for every child.
Seraj libraries just opened a storytelling center in Palestine. The Center will give Palestinians the opportunity to tell, write and record their own stories wity their own narrative.
This Episode's Storied Recipe
A humble, delicious porridge of lentils, rice, cumin, tumeric and topped with onions of all varieties. This is Mai's favorite dish and can be eaten warm, cold, or at room temperature.
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I am also a storytelling photographer celebrating food in extraordinary light
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