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MBI Al Jaber Lecture Series: ‘Arabia on a Plate: Cuisine and Commerce in the Gulf and Beyond’ by Sarah Al Hamad

Sarah Al-Hamad, author of the award-winning ‘Cardamom and Lime: Flavours of the Arabian Gulf’

Sarah Al-Hamad, author of the award-winning ‘Cardamom and Lime: Flavours of the Arabian Gulf’, presented the penultimate lecture of the 2016-17 MBI Al Jaber Foundation lecture series on Thursday, May 18th. The lecture was co-hosted by the MBI Al Jaber Foundation and the British Foundation for the Study of Arabia. Sarah, who has an MA from SOAS and has worked for Saqi Books for many years, has recently written ‘Sun Bread and Sticky Toffee: Date Desserts from Everywhere’, which takes the reader on a wonderful journey in the footsteps of date palms.

Arabian food is a product of climate and geography, but also of Arabia’s unique location. Sarah described how shipbuilders, merchants, Bedouin ghee-makers, honey and coffee producers, have all influenced the cuisine of the largest Peninsula in the world - from coast to coast. The different geographical regions that either share cuisine or whose food tastes greatly vary, were identified with the assistance of a variety of maps while Sarah talked about the cuisine of the desert plateaus, palm oases, mountain ranges, coastal areas, trading places and bustling, cosmopolitan cities – both ancient and modern. The Eastern Arabian region uses grains, pulses, Indian spices and lamb for its dishes, while the Western Arabian region, to the south of Jordan, grows beans, fenugreek, barley, other grains, and uses honey.

In her fascinating presentation, Sarah Al-Hamad included some ‘hands on’ elements and wonderful slides which had the audience’s mouths watering. We are already looking forward to inviting her to lecture for us again!

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