in search of black and white (the western desert, egypt)

I’m getting ready to move back across the Atlantic for round two of coursework at Georgetown this fall while stealing a few weeks in France for some inspiration-grabbing and intensive recipe-testing. Until the dust settles, I’ll be posting a few photosets from trips this spring and summer, starting with some of my favorite shots from Egypt’s “Black and White Desert,” near the Bahariyya Oasis in the West.

Of course, while I stroll the boulevards of Paris and edit these batches of gorgeous desert landscapes, the events in Gaza, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Egypt are never far from my mind. Last week’s post was by far the most widely shared one I’ve ever written. So much has been said lately about Gaza in particular that I often feel at a loss as to what I might contribute. Clarity seems elusive.

However, one thing I am certain of is that much of the suffering happening right now in the Arab world is aided by an often subtle, insidious, not universal but certainly widespread tendency to dehumanize Arabs and Palestinians within my own society (that would be the US – let’s say white Christian America in particular). Certainly it’s not the sole cause of the crimes and conflicts we’re witnessing today, but I certainly believe it’s an accessory to them.

This means that while divestment and boycotts and lobbying are essential to solidarity (and you should participate), it’s also worth seeking out reminders of the humanity of the people living in the region: whether cooking for friends, reading voices from the region in a book club, sponsoring art (see in particular – and support! – my friend Leila’s project to sculpt a portrait of the late Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani), or sharing a short film like this one, which reminds us that among other things, Gaza is a place with people who love seafood. Just like me. (I have it on good authority that Gazan seafood can blow Tel Aviv’s out of the water.)

Great, now I want sayyadieh.

In the meantime, as always, the best flavors and images from my travels are micro-blogged via Twitter & Tumblr.

Even more photos here.

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