Sawsan Matbakhi


When I was a young girl, my father would tear off a piece of hot pita bread and stuff it with a cube of cheese and a mint leaf. He asked me to eat from his hand and said “close your eyes.” He taught me that eliminating a sense, in this case, sight, would heighten the most important, taste. From that moment on, I understood that my relationship with food was one that resembled love. 

I often find myself returning in thought, or even in fact, to a former time in my life. Weather it’s to hear the chatter in my birthplace, Jerusalem, smell the grape vines from my parents garden, or taste some olive oil; nostalgia has always been a part of me. 

I learned how to cook the classic Palestinian way, through peering over my mother’s shoulder as she sliced, stuffed, and spiced. I was waiting for the day I could use food to express love the way she did. So, I decided to do just that, while taking up writing as a second hobby. I know that I will never be able to choose a favorite between the two. 

All at once, I realized that I wasn’t only cooking for my family, as I received requests for specific dishes from friends and even some of their friends. I was doing the same thing I aspired to, feeding people little pots of love. In 2011, I decided to expand the pots, and turn my home kitchen into a private catering business-- enter Matbakhi; my kitchen. I decided to mentally collect all of my mother’s recipes and start a concept inspired by and for my family. One that brings nostalgia; takes people back to a former sentiment, to the Holy Land of Palestine.