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Food Tales from Nablus


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In the heart of the Old City of Nablus in Palestine, a new women's center called Bait al Karama opened fall of 2011, as a result of a unique partnership between Fatima Kadoumy, representative of a local women's affairs charity Fatima Kadoumy and visual artist Beatrice Catanzaroto. The center has been providing art and cultural opportunities for local women, who live in and around this neighborhood. However, the primary focus of the center is to provide opportunities through culinary social enterprises. One of the major components will be the creation a cooking school for foreign visitors that will employ local women as chefs and instructors.

The reason why food plays a major role in the center is because of so much of daily life in Palestine is centered around food, leading to greater fellowship amongst residents. As Catanzaro wrote in the application, “Conviviality represents a fundamental space of the life of Palestinian women and social life as a whole, even in times of bombardments and curfews.” Many of the women involved with the center have been living through the realities of occupation, including economic or personal hardships. Some of the women are widows, victims of domestic violence, or whose husbands are in prison. But through the close-knit connection with Bait al Karama, the women are able to participate more fully in the creation of a new future for themselves and their families

Using food as the starting point, the project seeks to teach local women how to use citizen media to document and record personal and family stories about the origins and the traditions of local cuisine. These narratives will provide an important window to better understand the lives of the women and their families through their own words. The stories and images will be fully incorporated into Bait al Karama's blog. Catanazaro adds, “the women will be recalling personal and family memories and will depict a culture and tradition far beyond the usual stereotype of a conflict country.”

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