Abeer Najjarused to be embarrassed, when she was younger, about her mother foraging for perseline on Chicago’s streets, long before foraging was in vogue.
In fact, the chef and blogger’s Palestinian food heritage was, she admits regretfully, a source of shame for her growing up on the city’s South Side, when the other children would laugh at her packed lunch or discreetly deposit food they didn’t want to try in napkins when they came round for dinner.
But, as she revealed in a recent talk at the Food on the Edge symposium in Galway, Ireland, Najjar's growing anger at the way immigrants were being cut out of the conversation when it came to the appropriation of their cuisine, made her want to take back ownership. No longer would the young woman pursuing her love of cooking wonder, ‘How do I make my food palatable for white people?’
It led her to establish a successful supper club serving the food she learned to cook with her mother, and a web series, and it is, she says, everyone’s responsibility now to “challenge the subtle racism in the food world.”