Where is home? What does "home" mean, anyway? And is it true that you can never go home again?
I spent my childhood in Beirut during the Lebanese civil war. I'd hide under my bed every night to avoid hearing the bombs blowing up my city. My family camped out for days in a basement shelter. Still, I never wanted to leave Beirut. When we eventually escaped to Texas, I left kicking and screaming.
Fast-forward to my 20s and 30s: Living in New York City and pursuing my dream career as a writer and editor, I still couldn’t get rid of the nagging urge to move back to Lebanon. The war had long ended, though the country still was (many would say is) a political hellhole. But after all these years, I still missed living along the Mediterranean Sea, and missed all the people I still felt close to in Lebanon, and craved the za'atar bread from the bakeries in my family’s Beirut neighborhood. More than anything, I missed the sense of belonging to a place—rooted, rock-solid. Home.
But was Beirut still home? Had it changed too dramatically since I'd left? Was I crazy to think I could go back and restart the life I'd left behind?
I finally worked up the nerve to pack my bags and move back. So...what happened in Beirut? My return played out in a way I could never have imagined. Jasmine and Fire tells the story of what it was like to try to go home again—to a city as thrilling, wildly unpredictable, messy, and heartbreakingly beautiful as Beirut.
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Glamour magazine once published a recipe for roast chicken—nothing terribly complicated, just an excellent, reliable, somewhat basic recipe. And then letters started pouring in: from readers (women mostly) who made the chicken for their boyfriends and ended up with a marriage proposal. So Glamour published the recipe again, and again, and the same thing happened every time.
The bizarre story of the chicken—the very good, oddly life-changing chicken—inspired Glamour to publish a cookbook. The initial idea was to call the book something along the lines of Engagement Chicken, but the final title made a play for a wider audience: 100 Recipes Every Woman Should Know.
As a Contributing Editor for the cookbook, I wrote and edited parts of the book, helped choose the recipes, and oversaw the recipe-testing process. Some of my own recipes are in there too.
By the way, this cookbook isn't just for women—although granted, guys who find it useful might want to put it on their bookshelf with the spine facing in.
Whether or not you're a woman, and whether or not you even want to get engaged, this is a terrifically handy, user-friendly little cookbook. I still use it all the time.