My name is Heba, and I often find myself in the kitchen, both spiritually speaking, and, well… I also find myself eating there.
I have an intimate relationship with food. For me, it is a means of creative self-expression, a passage that connects me to my Palestinian roots, and it is a gesture of love — I often like to tell people that I care about them by feeding them a meal cooked with love.
Most of what I cook is inspired by the Palestinian/Levantine flavors that I grew up with. Having grown up in a Palestinian household in Saudi Arabia, and having a family that lived in Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Tunisia, Germany, UAE and India, I was fortunate enough to be exposed to a myriad of flavors, especially in my mother’s kitchen — who is the best cook I know.
Since I was a child, I used to spend a lot of time helping my mother in the kitchen and watching her cook. But when I became vegetarian 16 years ago, I didn’t know what I was doing and made the mistake of ditching not only meat, but an entire cuisine that I was most familiar with. I cooked because I had to and due to the lack of vegetarian options where I lived, not because I wanted to. But over time, I started going back to my roots, and I learned to enjoy the process as well the outcome. And most of all, I enjoy being able to sit around the same table and enjoying the same food with loved ones; something that came to an end when I first stopped eating animals.
Being vegan, I am always thinking of creative ways of making Palestinian/Levantine dishes with plants. So I figured why not start a blog where I document some of my trials in the kitchen.
Outside of the kitchen, I work as a translator and researcher and have a background in linguistics. I enjoy painting, photography, Islamic architecture/geometry, swimming, reading and going to music gigs.
Why Gaea’s Pan?
It’s supposed to be a play on words coming from the word Pangaea (thanks to my husband who helped me with the brainstorming and came up with the witty pun). About 335 million years ago, Earth didn’t have 7 continents, instead most of Earth’s landmass was one supercontinent called Pangaea. I like that idea of oneness before humanity was divided by continents and borders and nationalist ideologies.