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ARABIC SPEAKING IMMIGRANTS &
MIDDLE EASTERN CUISINE Riana Slyter- Graduate Todd Ballard - Area Agronomy Extension Agent
Teaching Assistant Mohammed Hirchi- Associate Professor
FROM THE AGRICULTURAL ENVIRONMENTS OF NORTHEASTERN Hossam Ahmad- Instructor
PROJECT INTRODUCTION WHAT YOU DID WHAT YOU LEARNED
The Middle Eastern region is diverse and vast. For this project, the focus will This summer I have researched and found supporting evidence for all the Throughout this project, I have learned a great deal about my heritage and the
be on the areas of the broader Levant region for their cuisine as they have a spices and herbs within Za'atar that can be grown in Colorado. Particularly they importance of food and culture, particularly in the production process. Creating a
direct impact on the Coloradan community. Lebanese food provides a strong would grow well in controlled environments like greenhouses. Most of the strong understanding of a region can be cemented by the kinds of foods and
influence in the Levant region and directly connects with my heritage making it agriculture from different meats like lamb and chicken are already produced practices they share. I found myself emotional as I was researching basic
both accessible and personal. Therefore, I will be providing a deep dive of here in Colorado. I went through over 75 academic articles on agronomy to see ingredients as I recalled much of my past with my grandparents and the foods we
Lebanese cuisine by and its influence in both the Middle East and the if this production was possible in the Colorado region. Although it is possible, would make and share together.
Northeastern Colorado region. Through this process, I am researching the there might not be high enough of a demand to make this worth it.
literature surrounding agronomist work, ultimately supporting the traditional This experience has helped me develop a better understanding of the region and
Lebanese spice, Za'atar, and discovering whether it can be produced in the What makes Middle Eastern cuisine unique is how the foods are cooked, and rekindle the previous relationships I have had with my family in Lebanon. Through
Colorado region. more importantly, the spices and the flavors in the cooking. The most common this process, I have been inspired to take Arabic in the fall to continue my growth
ingredients in every dish are olive oil, lemon, and garlic. Some of the special and understanding of my culture.
I have connected with local Lebanese and Middle Eastern restaurants and ingredients that make up Za'atar are oregano, thyme marjoram, sumac, and The most important aspect of this internship has been connecting with people
grocery stores like Yum Yum Social and Olive Tree to understand the Colorado sesame seeds. The herbs and spices are essential ingredients as they create who share my heritage. I believe it has resurrected much of what I have lost in my
Middle Eastern community and what can benefit them in their production the flavors that give Mediterranean cuisine a distinctive zesty and light taste. life, with the early deaths of my grandparents. Ultimately, finding a community of
efforts. Through this research, I have learned more about the sociopolitical, The Mediterranean diet is praised for its benefits on health because of the people who share a similar story particularly after feeling like hiding their
regional, and cultural ties that connect the Middle East. Particularly, the U.S. minimally processed foods and its focus on fresh ingredients.
Census Bureau found Coloradans who are of Lebanese or Moroccan descent identities after 9/11 because of the hate and bigotry directed toward Middle
make up the largest number of Arab Americans in our community. This I went through extensive interviews with the community and my family to get Eastern and Arab communities. I have developed a strong sense of pride, love,
research directly impacts the Colorado community and my personal the cuisine and history of the food and culture. In the Fort Collins area, there is and interest in who I am and the Middle Eastern community around me.
experiences. a Lebanese restaurant called Yum Yum Social and a Middle Eastern grocery
INTERNSHIP GOALS store called Olive Tree. I went to both of these locations to talk to the owners Table 1. The Lebanese Cookbook- Stories and Culture
and what issues they had in acquiring the particular spices. Many of them
What really separates Middle Eastern food is the spices used in the cuisine.
spoke of high shipping prices to receive the ingredients overseas. They also
mentioned the lack of quality in some of the foods like chickpeas an important The Lebanese
The goal of the internship is to gain an understanding of the existing literature ingredient of hummus. cookbook was printed
on Middle Eastern Cuisine, particularly around plants that create the spice and produced with a
blend of Za'atar which includes dried oregano, thyme, marjoram, sumac, and In the latter half of my internship, I focused on collecting, creating, and lot of my own history,
sesame seeds as it is used in many recipes. My goal is to research the history designing a cookbook of all my family recipes. Through this process, I learned a stories, and culture in
of these spices, how to grow them, and discover whether it is possible to grow lot more about my grandparents, their stories, the history of Middle Eastern the pages.
these foods in Colorado. people in the United States.
HOW DOES THIS APPLY TO YOUR EDUCATION Figure 1. The Levant Region of the Middle East NEXT STEPS
Learning about these foods and how they are grown directly helps me connect The Levant Region refers The biggest obstacle against Middle Eastern spices production in Colorado
to my family and my ancestral history. I grew up with my grandparents to countries and their comes from finding a large enough market for these foods. Although there is a
speaking Arabic to me and cooking Lebanese cuisine. They were proud to be approximate historical market of people interested in the product there needs to be economic value
American and they were proud to be Lebanese. Through my research, I found geographical area. for the farmers to produce spices like sesame. For example, Sesaco is a
a strong connection to my heritage because food is such a large element that sesame-focused production company located in the United States. They work
continues to connect me with my culture. I remember the flavors and The Levant encompasses with local farmers to produce sesame, although mostly in Nebraska. There is
community conversations surrounding Lebanese cuisine, and how powerful the countries of Cyprus, an increased need and interest in the Mediterranean diet because it is
food was to bring people together. The Middle Eastern influence impacts my Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, incredibly healthy and we can see the influence in the cuisine with the
worldview but also influences my work in film and media studies as I study Palestine, Syria, Turkey, increased interest in hummus in grocery stores. America has become more
Middle Eastern cinema. Food is one aspect of the culture I am rekindling from Egypt, Greece, Iraq, Libya, interested in curiosity in foods, building intercultural connections that can
my past to better help me understand my future as a scholar. and Turkey. beneficially highlight foods and culture in our community.
Colorado State University
Why are Middle Easterners classified as Caucasian? The US had immigrants form East Asia and also people from West and Southwest Asia. The Middle Eastern immigrants were mainly Christians from Syria and Lebanon. They argued that they were Caucasians like Europeans and some had light eyes, hair and/or skin in plenty of cases.
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