Discover more from Sa'alouni El Nas
Guest Feature: Tala Bashmi
One quick thing to plug: my friend Tariq Raouf started a newsletter where they’re documenting their personal journey with their Palestinian identity after avoiding it their entire life. It’s incredibly vulnerable, deeply personal, and relatable to anyone, no matter where you may be on your journey toward understanding your identity.
Trust me, you’ll want to subscribe and check out Tariq’s newsletter. Follow them as they get better acquainted with their heritage!
Okay friends, let’s get right into it. I am so excited to introduce this week’s guest feature: Tala Bashmi!
Tala is a renowned chef from Bahrain who was recently named the Middle East and North Africa’s Best Female Chef at the inaugural MENA’s 50 Best Restaurants 2022 awards ceremony.
She is the chef-patron of Fusions by Tala, her inaugural restaurant. At Fusions, Tala prides herself in her daring and willingness to experiment with a range of ingredients and techniques that come from different parts of the world.
As a child, Tala learned the history of Middle Eastern cuisine and her cultural identity from her father through his in-depth knowledge behind the ingredients used. Her passion for cooking followed her into her first foray into the culinary world with Baked by T. An instant hit, Chef Tala’s desserts became notorious in Bahrain, garnering her social media awards.
Tala then joined the Gulf Hotel Bahrain as a trainee, working her way up the ranks. Her professional kitchen experience began with butchery, then led to working her way around the various kitchens and cuisines to develop her knowledge and hone her skills.
Inspired by her success, she studied at the Culinary Arts Academy, Cesar Ritz, Lucerne, Switzerland, where she was awarded Masters of International Business in Culinary Management. Tala also competed on Top Chef Middle East & North Africa, reaching the finals.
Y’all, we are talking about the literal best chef in the Middle East and North Africa RIGHT NOW! Clearly we all need to go to Fusions immediately. But Tala isn’t only a culinary badass — she’s also got an eclectic and incredible taste in music to boot:
1. What is your favorite song right now?
Majid Jordan without a doubt keeps dropping bangers and I love all of their albums, this song is what I've got on repeat at the moment, along with “Been Through That”.
“Ayonha” is such a beautiful, uplifting song that I can't get enough of either.
2. What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
I got a lot of feels, I actually have an entire playlist dedicated to my feels. Here are a few of my favorites, because I couldn't pick just one:
3. Name a song that reminds you of home.
Reminds me of car rides with my mom and dad when I was young, windows down and the wind in my hair, listening to Abdel Halim and Fairouz
For me it's more about if a song “feels” like home, and these songs are exactly that.
4. Name a song you know all the words to.
A song you know all the words to is a song that gets you through something, a song you listen to on repeat until you feel a little better!
5. Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
Red Hot Chili Peppers - “Can't Stop” (or anything RHCP)
Again, I have an entire “hype” playlist that I usually play in the kitchen during service, as soon as sh*t starts to hit the fan.
It keeps me focused and keeps the momentum going for myself and the team to push through the rush!
Big shout out to Tala for joining and sharing her song selections! All of Tala’s songs will be included in this week’s playlist, so be sure to take a listen. Check out Tala on Instagram and tune into her talk with afikra on June 1!
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Flows by Middle Eastern, North African, & Diaspora Artists 🎧
Ya Lili - El Dey
Mishta’a - Dana Salah
Wast El Nile - Moudy Al Arabe
Dopeness - Tendresse The One
Habibi - J. Esho featuring Pierre Youssef and Jvanz
Fawda - Al9ine
Wahna Kbar - Ÿuma
7otam - Elsayed Agamy
Red - WalGz featuring MaMan
Hali - Ghita
🎤 Vibes by Latinx & Hispanic Artists 🎤
RUMBATÓN - Daddy Yankee
Metele Sazón - Tego Calderon
CUATRO VEINTE - Emilia
Sigue - J Balvin featuring Ed Sheeran
Mojando Asientos - Maluma featuring Feid
Better Version - Sabrina Claudio
Aunque no te pueda ver - Lennis Rodriguez featuring Omar Montes and Chus Santana
Cagón - Niño Etc.
Planeta Tierra - Lil Boo
Ando - toorai
🎼 Other Good Music 🎼
Early Hours - ArrDee
Alone - Beau Diako featuring Ego Ella May
COMING - T’neeya
Shine - Elaine
Whatever Simon Says - Mahalia
Mara - Rema
Troubles - Denzel Curry featuring T-Pain
JINJA - Tekno
Siwezi - Nandy
Cardboard Box - FLO
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
Beyond barriers: Who and where are the women running in Lebanon's May elections, and what are their prospects? - Rana Tabbara and Richard Salame, L’Orient Today
When the March 15 filing deadline for candidates to register in May's parliamentary elections had passed, 157 women* had signed up to run making up some 15 percent of the 1,043 total candidates, compared to 11 percent in the 2018 polls.
This Lebanese university gives senior citizens a chance to go back to school - Michael Levitt and Amy Isackson, NPR
The University for Seniors in Beirut, Lebanon, gives older students the chance to remain active and engaged as they age. The program's director says the vision is to portray a positive image of aging.
Normal life is now impossible in Lebanon, sapping upcoming elections of any hope - Lina Sinjab, The National
“So it is hard to speak of anything like a regular routine – life in Beirut is lived according to whether the power is on or off.”
The man who documents Lebanon's queer community to combat his fear of forgetting - Kim Makhlouf, L’Orient Today
“Mohamad Abdouni is an ambidextrous creative force — a photographer, filmmaker and curator based between Beirut and Istanbul. He is also editor-in-chief and creative director of Cold Cuts magazine, a periodical photo journal that explores queer culture in the Southwest Asia and North Africa (SWANA) region.”
Let’s Talk About Funding Journalism - Lara Bitar, The Public Source
“In Lebanon, a few dynasties tightly control mass media while the state actively obstructs the entry of newcomers.”
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
Hebah Fisher is the co-founder and CEO of the first VC-backed and female-led podcast platform network in the Middle East: Kerning Cultures Network. The Egyptian-American entrepreneur opens up about the company’s grassroots origins, the challenges her team faced raising venture capital, and how the platform’s nuanced and balanced storytelling is providing a new portal of digital content for curious young listeners across the region and around the world.
Egypt’s forgotten mental health crisis - Daniel Khalili-Tari, Al Jazeera
Health experts call on the government to increase awareness through nationwide campaigns as struggling people continue to die by suicide. (*CONTENT WARNING: This story may be triggering)
Racism and colourism are stifling prospects of women in the Middle East - Nada AlTaher, The National
Women becoming hooked on skin-lightening products - but public perception is changing.
Arabs denounce 'double standard' of Russia sports bans - Ali Choukeir, Agence France-Presse
Russia's war on Ukraine has drawn unprecedented sanctions that have seen it banned from most international sports in a Western-led break with the long-standing convention against politics mixing with sport.
Sudan’s military is brutally suppressing protests – global action is needed - Mohamed Osman, The Guardian
“A targeted response, including sanctions against those leading the repression, will allow Sudanese striving for a fairer future the freedom to organize.”
🎶 Music, Arts, & Culture 🎶
Quinta Brunson has revived the sitcom — and she’s just getting started - Jamal Jordan, Mic
"I really trust in myself and my own Blackness."
The Aleppo record store silenced by war - Asser Khattab, Financial Times
One of the hardest parts of e is the simplveryday pleasures that one must leave behind.
Women Rule Dembow Music — Even Amid The Industry’s Rampant Sexism & Racism - Marjua Estevez, Refinery29
While women artists have been some of the genre's most important ambassadors and trendsetters, they have consistently been snubbed.
Netflix’s New Anthology Series Explores a Different Kind of Arab Love - Amina Kaabi, Mille World
Not your average love tales.
Giving Phife Dawg the Sound of “Forever” - Charles Bethea, The New Yorker
Dion Liverpool, who co-produced a new posthumous album by the beloved Tribe Called Quest rapper, calls it the most challenging project he’s ever worked on.
📚 Other Reads 📚
Ukraine’s Radio Station of National Resistance - Nicolas Niarchos, The New Yorker
High up in the Carpathian Mountains, two Kyiv broadcasters keep the signal alive.
Meet the Black Women Behind the New Digital Startups Aimed at Reducing Health Disparities - Margo Snipe, Capital B
Only 3% of active physicians are Black women. A wave of new digital platforms is trying to make it easier to find them.
The Determination of Destiny - Mirin Fader, The Ringer
No. 1 South Carolina’s biggest X factor shows up when it matters most, largely because the big moments she stares down on the hardwood pale in comparison to what she’s endured in real life.
‘Fixer’ killed in Ukraine was doing a vital, thankless journalism job - Paul Farhi, The Washington Post
Sasha Kuvshynova was just one of the legions of savvy local assistants foreign correspondents rely upon to navigate unfamiliar terrain.
Ketanji Brown Jackson and ‘the nature of a right’ - Jeneé Osterheldt, The Boston Globe
It is clear that the only rights the GOP cares about are the ones that protect their privilege.