“She’s revolutionizing the way people cook halal by bringing in her heritage,” says Sameer Sarmast of Sameer’s Eats. “She’s showing Muslim cooks that they can make more than just kebabs and biryani.” Sameer is talking about the mega-popular foodie blogger Yvonne Maffei of My Halal Kitchen (who has a whopping 1.2 million Facebook followers). Yvonne is a Muslim convert from a Puerto Rican-Italian family who, according to food writer Von Diaz, is “deeply committed to translating her Latino and Italian heritage dishes to her new halal context.“
Here are some snippets from the interview with kitchn blog:
“I didn’t actually intend to convert,” Yvonne says. “But I studied abroad and took a side trip to Morocco, and found it to be really interesting and beautiful. It was the first time I was exposed to Muslim people. Then I came back to Ohio University and started to become a little more interested in who the people were, started hanging out with them and eating with them. The more talked to them and got a better understanding of Islam, the more interested I became.”
“I bonded with Muslims through food. A good friend of mine [in college] came from Yemen, and going into her household was an experience. I was let into their world, and was so curious about how the women in her family lived. What is the secret? Why do they hold things so sacred? And then I met Sudanese, Qatarers, Indonesians, and Palestinians all in the span of a couple of years. And I thought, Wow their food is all halal. It’s all different, but carries the same message.”
“I want to show people what halal is about, and let them enjoy it if they want to. And to break those myths that are so dangerous.”
Yvonne Maffei first cookbook, My Halal Kitchen: Global Recipes, Cooking Tips, and Lifestyle Inspiration, is out now.