Growing up in North Carolina, a generation removed from the Civil Rights Movement, I was certain from a young age that boycotts were important. But it wasn’t until I learned to spell boycott in Arabic, many years later, that I began to fully understand why.
The journey that began in my first Arabic class my freshman year of college has brought me to Morocco (a few times), Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, and Egypt. It’s taken me through career goals that have included diplomacy, development, advocacy, policy, law, and teaching – and somehow dropped me off at the corner of food and storytelling.
An explosion in Cairo last week, a medieval manuscript, and a constellation of civil disobedience actions brought me to a new realization: that even as I immerse myself in the world of food and all the pleasures it brings, there’s no escaping politics.
This is no tale of reaching world peace through sharing the same hummus recipe, or the alchemy that happens when you break bread with someone different from you. Those are good starting points, perhaps, for stories, but as narratives unto themselves they do not do justice to the raucous and terrible and beautiful wonder of this life. The real world has far more twists and turns and complications than that, and so does my story.