Discover more from Sa'alouni El Nas
Guest Feature: Michael Akladios
A few months back, renowned chef and activist Reem Assil graciously joined the newsletter and shared some of her go-to songs. Reem is now coming out with an incredible new cookbook called “Arabiyya: Recipes from the Life of an Arab in Diaspora” which will be available in April.
HOW COOL IS THAT?!
Here’s a little bit about Reem’s book:
A collection of 100+ bright, bold recipes influenced by the vibrant flavors and convivial culture of the Arab world, filled with moving personal essays on food, family, and identity and mixed with a pinch of California cool.
Arabiyya celebrates the alluring aromas and flavors of Arab food and the welcoming spirit with which they are shared. Written from her point of view as an Arab in diaspora, Reem takes readers on a journey through her Palestinian and Syrian roots, showing how her heritage has inspired her recipes for flatbreads, dips, snacks, platters to share, and more. With a section specializing in breads of the Arab bakery, plus recipes for favorites such as Salatet Fattoush, Falafel Mahshi, Mujaddarra, and Hummus Bil Awarma, Arabiyya showcases the origins and evolution of Arab cuisine and opens up a whole new world of flavor.
Alongside the tempting recipes, Reem shares stories of the power of Arab communities to turn hardship into brilliant, nourishing meals and any occasion into a celebratory feast. Reem then translates this spirit into her own work in California, creating restaurants that define hospitality at all levels. Yes, there are tender lamb dishes, piles of fresh breads, and perfectly cooked rice, but there is also food for thought about what it takes to create a more equitable society, where workers and people often at the margins are brought to the center. Reem’s glorious dishes draw in readers and customers, but it is her infectious warmth that keeps them at the table.
It’s really cool to see this come to fruition from someone who authentically and proudly reps and advocates for the community!
The book will be available April 19, 2022. Support Reem by pre-ordering your copy here!
Okay friends, let’s get right into it. I am so excited to introduce this week’s guest feature: Michael Akladios!
Dr. Michael Akladios is the Founder and Executive Director of Egypt Migrations, a Canadian not-for-profit archival, educational, and community outreach organization. An historian of 20th century migrations, he teaches at the University of Toronto – Mississauga and his research critically reflects on the mundane transnationalism of ordinary Egyptians in Cold War North American cities. Michael is a public facing scholar and has published with Mada Masr, The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, Active History, Public Orthodoxy, among others. He details the history of Coptic diasporic activism in a forthcoming chapter in Dalia Abdelhady and Ramy Aly eds., The Routledge Handbook on Middle Eastern Diasporas (Routledge, 2022).
It’s so cool to see what Michael has been able to do with Egypt Migrations, and to read the analyses and stories from people exploring the roots of the country. And when I asked if Michael would be willing to share some of his go-to songs, I had no doubt he would choose songs by some of Egypt’s finest:
1. What is your favorite song right now?
A friend introduced me to Algeria’s Babylone and their song “Zina” last year. To this day, I am enamoured by the melody and the song is a great companion on a silent and reflective night.
2. What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
3. Name a song that reminds you of home.
This may be cheating, but I have two homes and thus two songs to list.
When I am in Egypt, I think of displacement and turn to Cairokee’s “Ghareeb Fe Belad Ghreeba” featuring Abd El Basset Hamouda. There is this disconnect between the Egypt I remember (and the one I perhaps idealize) and the Egypt I find changed, rarely for the better, on every visit.
When I’m in Canada, I crave “Al Maseeh” by Abdel Halim Hafez. There is the broader significance that this was performed to a British audience in the wake of the 1967 Naksa. There is also the group significance for a Copt hearing a message of Christian belonging in Egypt and the Middle East. Personally, I listen to “Al Maseeh” and remember waking up on the weekend as a child in Alexandria, my mother playing it as carpets hung to air out on the balcony and eggs and foul cooked on the stove for breakfast.
4. Name a song you know all the words to.
Silly, fun, and overall, a joy to sing aloud without a care in the world, I have memorized the words to “Ekhwaty” by El Swareekh featuring Zuksh & Shehta Karika. I am obsessed with mahraganat and the rhythm of Egypt’s streets.
5. Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
A long time Eminem fanboy, I have every album and was that angsty Toronto teenager singing “knees week, arms heavy… mom’s Spaghetti” after school. Where once it was “Lose Yourself”, now my hype song is “Venom” without question. It’s my go-to song before any speaking engagement or to start off a long writing session.
Big shout out to Michael for joining and sharing his song selections! All of Michael’s songs will be included in this week’s playlist, so be sure to take a listen. Check out everything Egypt Migrations has to offer, and follow Michael on Twitter!
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Flows by Middle Eastern, North African, & Diaspora Artists 🎧
Ghareeb Alay - Elyanna featuring Salti
Mesh Ayzek Tegheeby - Almena
Dounia Yatokhad3oni - Nagwan
Wel - Queen G
7/6 - Husayn
KHAMSA FEL HEDOUE - Mousv
Aman Aman - Nadia Boumerdassi
Ya Arousa - ElBouma
Essential Oils - G-SALIH
El Ma’amour - Batistuta featuring L5VAV
🎤 Vibes by Latinx & Hispanic Artists 🎤
Sabe a Tu Nombre - Cosmic Wacho
Energia - Nino Augustine featuring Jossman
Destino - MUSAS featuring Luis Eduardo Acústico
Armageddon - Red 6xteen
Otra Vez - Chavi Leons
Yo Me Lo Merezco - Combo Chimbita
Arcade - Sak Noel featuring Chesca
Veneno - La Dame Blanche
COMBETE - Dawer x Damper
Cumbia Circular - Bareto featuring María del Rossario
🎼 Other Good Music 🎼
Softly (Remix) - Amber Mark featuring Popcaan
Plentiful (Originals) - Alicia Keys featuring Pusha T
darjeeling - FKA twigs featuring Jorja Smith and Unknown T
The Best - Erica Banks
Come My Way - Saba featuring Krayzie Bone
Little Brother - King Princess featuring Fousheé
Twenty-Nine - Kota the Friend
Parables (Remix) - Cordae featuring Eminem
Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me) - The Temptations
Mercy - Adekunle Gold
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
32 Years After Civil War, Mundane Moments Trigger Awful Memories - Maria Abi-Habib, The New York Times
Cards. Candles. Sunsets. For this New York Times correspondent and other children of Beirut in the 1980s, traumatic reminders of the war are still there in everyday activities.
The battle to save Lebanon’s retirement savings - Shaya Laughlin and David Wood, L’Orient Today
Lebanon’s economic crisis has spared few. Amongst the collapse’s cruelest blows has been the wholesale destruction of retirement savings, many of which were held in pension schemes run by Lebanon’s various professional syndicates.
The fragile state of children's mental health in Lebanon - Rosabel Crean, The New Arab
Lebanon's endless crises linger on, with disastrous short and long-term effects for its dwindling population. Mental health, the silent epidemic, continues to be of particular concern, with children now no more protected than their parents.
The distress of Kenyans who have nothing but the street in Badaro - Zeina Antonios, L’Orient Today
“Her eyes welled with tears as she expressed her fear of returning to Kenya destitute, because her employers have not paid her salary. ‘I feel like ending my life sometimes,’ she said. ‘I cannot stand receiving a call from Kenya, and hearing that my children are no longer allowed in class because I have not paid their tuition.’”
Syrian refugees in Lebanon need help and protection, not more pressure to leave - Yasmin Kayali, The New Humanitarian
“It’s telling that just 0.8 percent of Syrian refugees in Lebanon are contemplating a return to Syria.”
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
In Pictures: Palestinian home demolished in Sheikh Jarrah - Zena Al Tahhan, Al Jazeera
Dozens of heavily armed officers broke into the house while the family was sleeping and assaulted them.
'Disability differs when you are an Arab': Shifting obsolete notions of disability within the Arab world - Raya al-Jadir, The New Arab
Raya al-Jadir, co-founder of disability lifestyle magazine Disability Horizons elaborates on the archaic perception of the disabled within in the Arab World, and what needs to change to encourage a more inclusive future.
Pegasus Spyware Used Against Dozens of Activist Women in the Middle East - Anamaria Silic, The Intercept
The attacks add to a growing catalog of shame for spyware-maker NSO Group.
One of the World’s Wealthiest Oil Exporters Is Becoming Unlivable - Fiona MacDonald, Bloomberg
“Thanks to climate change, temperatures in Kuwait could become too hot for people and wildlife in decades. How is this rich nation facing an uncomfortable future?”
A letter to the Sydney Festival about Palestine solidarity - Sara Saleh, +972 Magazine
“When the Festival Board dismissed our objections to Israeli embassy funding, it had no idea of the massive support that artists would show for our cause.”
🎶 Music, Arts, & Culture 🎶
A Ban on 19 Singers in Egypt Tests the Old Guard’s Power - Mona El-Naggar, The New York Times
Leaders of a musicians’ licensing group are trying to curb mahraganat, a bold genre wildly popular with young people. It is not clear if they can.
The illustration artist and comic book author talks through an exciting range of her music-inspired projects from the past few years.
How ‘Encanto’s’ ‘We Don’t Talk About Bruno’ Became Bigger Than ‘Let It Go’ - Alex Janin, The Wall Street Journal
The song, written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, from Disney’s animated musical has been dubbed in 46 languages.
The Race to Save Hip-Hop’s Lost Eras - Mosi Reeves, Pitchfork
Why are early rap recordings so hard to find, and what does the ideal historical archive look like?
How Arabic nahda music is experiencing a revival - Nourhan Tewfik, The National
The Arab Music Archiving & Research Foundation aims to preserve the traditional pre-1930s genre.
📚 Other Reads 📚
The NBA is regarded as a much friendlier league than in previous generations, a shift that can be reflected in the nature of trash talk, or lack thereof, between players.
Biden’s immigration polices have left Haitians stranded in Mexico - Nicole Narea, Vox
Record numbers of Haitians are seeking asylum in Mexico because they have no other option.
A Grand Miami Beach Hotel, and Its History, Might Be Torn Down - Patricia Mazzei, The New York Times
The Deauville Beach Resort played host to The Beatles, Frank Sinatra and John F. Kennedy. But it has been deemed unsafe after years of neglect.
Stern, talent influx led to NBA transformation during 1980's - Tim Reynolds, Associated Press
The 1980s became a transformative decade for the NBA, which is celebrating its 75th season. Television audiences reached new heights, the financial picture changed and the league — instead of shedding teams — expanded into new markets. People were putting VCRs in their homes, and the league came up with an entity called NBA Entertainment to give basketball fans with those devices plenty of content.
The Many Meanings of Family Estrangement - Raksha Vasudevan, Harper’s Bazaar
For women of color living the immigrant experience in America, Raksha Vasudevan writes, family estrangement poses a painful double burden.
Kids Across the Country Are Protesting COVID Conditions In Schools. Are You Listening To Them? - Murjani Rawls, The Root
The topic of in-person learning is often framed around the adults when we should also be listening to the kids.