Why I decided to interview Emirati women who passionately enjoy preparing, cooking and passing on their favorite traditional Emirati dishes to their children.
Traditional Emirati food is the identity and the heart of the UAE!
The traditional Emirati food culture plays an important part in every Emirati’s upbringing. In fact, traditional Emirati food culture is powerfully reverential to those who understand the foundation and purpose behind the rituals. They are the ones who have decided to preserve this extraordinary culture for their families and future generations to come.
In order to understand this powerful and magnetic culture, I decided to write a cookbook which would appeal to everyone interested in this remarkable culinary experience. I hope that Emirati families and Emirati working women and men will look at this book as a celebration of these recipes and how they bring people together. I interviewed as many Emirati families as I could to witness how they preserve their passion for cooking out of joy and love. It was amazing to see how every Emirati family has its own recipe adaptation for the same dishes, something which is very important for those who want to learn how to cook these recipes.
I was privileged to be invited to share exquisite traditional dishes which had a deeply historic and almost ritualistic element to them. This was so important to me as I belong to a family who are great cooks and who also follow traditional and cultural rituals of their respective countries. My mother and father are of aristocratic Hungarian and Baltic descent and they taught me the same fundamental food rituals that I experienced at each and every meal with Emirati families.
These fundamentals include the importance of hospitality and traditional rituals during mealtimes such as acknowledgment, respect, and communication. There is no doubt in my mind that this convention creates an element of serenity during a meal which for me eating with my family is an important part of our life.
Being grounded and knowing that we are respected and acknowledged during meal times is so important in order to feel good and connect.
Emiratis excel at hospitality, especially when the host or hostess receives guests. This is often referred to as the ‘fualah’ ritual and was performed while I was a guest in their homes. The fualah is a ritual that teaches manners in a subliminal and elegant way. It is still performed today in many Emirati households, predominantly by the women who feel it is of great importance in maintaining family traditions. Fualah often involves offering fruits, main dishes, dessert, Arabic coffee, perfumes, and incense.
Traditionally, the fualah ritual is offered between main meals in the morning and in the afternoon, as well as on special occasions and when receiving guests. Most Emirati families today maintain their traditional fualah practice mainly when their families and guests are together during the main meal. It is also offered when the genders are separated, which is often the case amongst Emirati families.
To be part of the Emirati food tasting experience was something that I would never have imagined possible. The families I visited so kindly welcomed me into their homes and afforded me this deeply compelling fualah experience and I have learned so much about respect and communication, something which is so vital for future generations to embrace and pass on.