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Content Creator Highlight: The Golden Balance

Photo: Facebook

If you didn’t know, this is Arab American Heritage Month. While this is a newly recognized celebratory tradition in the states, it’s long overdue. The purpose of this month is to honor Arab Americans and Arabic speaking Americans by highlighting their culture and contributions to the world. 

Here in the U.S., Arab cuisine is loved yet the culture’s representation is not prevalent. One content creator illuminating Arab culture and traditions is Ahmad Alzahabi, aka The Golden Balance. Inspired by his last name, which means golden, Alzahabi initially had an interest in documenting his journey to a more balanced and healthy lifestyle. Not long after he started sharing his daily routine, his culinary content began garnering attention, drawing more and more eyes to his delicious creations.

Alzahabi admits to having more culinary passion than experience in the beginning. During high school, he interned in Dubai at a four-star Swiss hotel, which taught him the ropes of working in a restaurant. While his knowledge grew, his hunger for more culinary growth pushed him onward. Fast forward a year later, along with countless trial and error attempts, and now The Golden Balance has millions of followers across three social media platforms. 

His self confidence undoubtedly plays a part in The Golden Balance’s success. Instilled in him by his parents, Alzahabi believes that it isn’t an insecurity if it’s something you embrace. This spirit can be felt in his content, which not only features mouthwatering food recipes, but also messages of positivity and encouragement. 

Although it was never his original intention, The Golden Balance has helped shed light on his Islamic roots. He later realized that for many Muslims, sharing their culture was a hurdle. Burgeoning fan interest in his culture inspired him to not only share more of it, but was also the origin of his tagline, “Now Bismillah.” The suggestion was made to him by Arab fans of his content who naturally identified with it. Alzahabi fondly recalled the impression these cultural interactions had on him:

“In their head it was like, sometimes it’s tough to embrace who you are, given your surroundings. So, when they see someone that’s representing who they are, and what they say and normalizing words in Arabic or foods that previously were looked down on — like look at this weirdo, look what they’re eating. And now, it’s making it cool, people feel represented. People feel represented through you, your name is Ahmad Alzahabi, you’re putting out dishes that your mom taught you that are completely Syrian, you’re saying ‘Bismillah’ at the end of every single video. I wasn’t doing it intentionally, I just said it because someone commented on it and thought that’s a good idea.”

During last year’s Ramadan, an Islamic observance of fasting, prayer, reflection and community, Alzahabi would break fast around 8pm or 9pm, and then create food content until the wee hours of the morning. Through this experience he was inspired to begin sharing his process along with other aspects of his culture through a series aptly-named The Ramadan Chronicles.

Moving forward, Alzahabi hopes to continue sharing his culture and making the kitchen a lot less intimidating for people. While he’s unsure if he does the best job expressing it, his goal is to encourage you to embrace who you are and be unapologetic as a person through food. “You gotta embrace the process,” he underscores. 

To follow Ahmed Alzahabi’s journey and learn some amazing recipes while you’re at it, you can visit his website here.

Culture News

Here’s What Eggs Have To Do With Easter

Easter is somehow synonymous with eggs: chocolate eggs, Easter egg hunts, candy eggs, dyed eggs. But have you ever wondered why the egg is so symbolic of the Easter holiday?

It all starts with the belief of eggs symbolizing new life and rebirth. This belief then lead folks to give eggs as gifts to celebrate the arrival of the spring season, which eventually became aligned with Easter over time.

The occasion of Easter developed within Christian tradition over the years, with its preparatory period, known as Lent, doing so as well. Fasting and later abstinence from certain foods, such as meat and eggs, became a part of Lenten traditions, as it is done as a sacrifice by many on Good Friday to align with how Jesus sacrificed his flesh for humanity.

Since there is abstinence from eggs and meat during Lent, eating one on Easter Sunday was considered special. This practice later evolved to include chocolate Easter eggs, with Fry’s being the first to sell them in 1873, and were made using dark chocolate.

Later in 1897, Cadbury came along and made a milk chocolate version of Easter eggs, which proved to be a hit, as the popularity of the milk chocolate eggs soon became the more prevalent version even until today.

So if you find yourself munching on a chocolate Easter egg this season, know that it all started from some poignant symbolism of new beginnings.

Culture Features News Restaurants

This Tokyo Cafe Is For Writers Only and Patrons Can Leave Once Writing Goal For the Day is Reached

Photo: Twitter

The right cafe can be a great place for a writer to get some work done. Unfortunately, many cafes can be noisy, packed and distracting, making it hard to get into your creative zone. 

Opened last week in Tokyo’s Koenji neighborhood, the aptly-titled Manuscript Writing Cafe was made purely with writers in mind.

For you to even get a seat, you first gotta let a staff member know what type of writing you’ll be doing. A wide range of writing forms from novels and magazine articles to copywriters and even manga storyboarding seem to grant you access to their primordial writer’s heaven. Finally, they require an intended writing goal for your time there.

Inside, seats are writer-ready, equipped with power and charger outlets, cooling stands and wi-fi. Writers can also request varying levels of verbal pressure from staff members, ensuring progress is being made. 

Photo: Twitter

You can enjoy extremely reasonable prices and unlimited refills of drip coffee for your stay there. Every 30 minutes, writers are only charged 150 yen ($1.20). The clever caveat is that you’re not allowed to end your session until you achieve the day’s writing goal, or the cafe closes for the night. These small details help create the necessary tension to inspire writers to be productive. A recent tweet from the owner highlights the cafe’s goal:

“Only people with a deadline looming can be admitted to the Manuscript Writing Cafe!” tweets owner Takuya Kawai. “Thank you for your understanding and cooperation in maintaining the cafe’s sense of tension.”

The cafe offers a simple menu because it isn’t ordinarily a cafe, it’s primarily a recording and broadcasting studio called Koenji Sankakuchitai. This means that Manuscript Writing Cafe only operates on the studio’s down days. In place of a menu, writers are allowed to bring their own food, briefly leave to stop by a convenience store and have food delivered as well. 

Manuscript Writing Cafe is usually open 1 – 7pm when the studio isn’t operating. For updates you can check out their website.

Cravings Culture Restaurants What's New

A Bulgogi Risotto Highlights This Creative Korean Fusion Menu

When a lot of folks think of Korean food, the first thought or correlation is most likely all you can eat Korean BBQ. Now there’s nothing wrong about that at all, however, it’s always more delicious whenever we expand our culinary horizons.

Hanchic., a stand out option in Los Angeles’ expansive Koreatown neighborhood, is challenging diners to experience the vast deliciousness that Korean cuisine has to offer. Head chef and local rising star in the kitchen Kyungbin Min expertly does this by presenting Korean flavors in applications and dishes that are more familiar to a wider audience. This means you can treat your senses to an unforgettable bulgogi risotto or luscious kimchi tagliatelle.

With a lush introduction to Korean flavors, diners are sure to leave Hanchic with an urge to explore all that Koreatown has to offer.

Celebrity Grub Culture

Watch Saweetie and H.E.R. List Their Top 3 Filipino Dishes

Hit R&B songstress H.E.R. and rapper Saweetie have always repped hard for their Filipino heritage, as both stars have Filipino mothers. On a recent IG Live this past February, they both broke down their top 3 Filipino foods.

Both started off showing their love for sinigang, a tamarind-based soup, followed by extra crispy lumpia, which are fried spring rolls. The two then cycle through some other popular dishes like adobo and kare kare, before seeming to settle on pancit, which make up a variety of noodle dishes, as the third.

Though they did seem to match up with their favorites, there was one Filipino food that Saweetie couldn’t make the connection with.

“I don’t like ube,” Saweetie sheepishly confessed.

“Aight, that’s one thing we don’t have in common,” laughed H.E.R.

Curious about Filipino food? Check out these massive Filipino food platters one restaurant is serving up.

Culture Video

Watch Authentic Puebla-Style Goat Barbacoa Cooked in a Ground Oven

There is magic in witnessing the process of authentic Puebla-style goat barbacoa being made. The preparation, the time dedicated, the meticulous details considered, the execution of tried and true techniques, this all adds up to a final product that is as satisfying and delicious as watching the process of its creation.

Barbakush is a pop-up in Baldwin Park, California that commits to the whole process of cooking whole goat barbacoa in a ground oven — the authentic Puebla way. The collective effort from Petra Zavaleta, her husband, Felix Rodriguez, and their son, Delfino Rodriguez, is what makes up Barbakush.

The craft of making goat barbacoa in such authentic fashion is made up of choosing the right goats, digging out the fire pit, sourcing the maguey leaves, cooking the goat meat overnight in a ground oven, gathering the delicate and supple meat in the morning, creating the flavorful consomé, serving up perfect handmade tortillas, and selling the delicious product by the pound to eager customers.

What ends up on our plates is unforgettable goat barbacoa, for sure, but considering all the dedication and passion that went into it makes the whole meal more of an experience that’s easy to appreciate.

Alcohol Culture

La Adelita Tequila Honors the Courageous Women Who Fought in the Mexican Revolution

In honor of Women’s History Month, La Adelita Tequila is celebrating its legacy with new programs named for Las Adelitas, the women who fought bravely in the 1919 Mexican Revolution. 

The Adelita Army is a brand ambassador program that empowers women in the tequila and hospitality industries who embody strength, power, and bravery. La Adelita will increase their grant contribution to support the professional advancement of its Army members and will also donate a portion of each bottle sold to charity. 

“La Adelita Tequila is founded on the artisanal legacy and commitment that goes into producing every bottle we make,” says Chris Radomski, Founder of La Adelita Tequila. “We battle the elements every day to farm our estate-grown agave at some of the highest elevations in Jalisco. The statue in our village square commemorates the sacrifices made by Las Adelitas, and in particular, the amazing women of our region who fought to preserve their community in Capilla de Guadalupe. We’re honored to shine a light on women who share our passion for amazing tequila and making the world a better place.”

La Adelita is a partnership of multi-generational distillers, jimadors, and renowned vintners from Mexico to California to craft an authentic selection of single estate tequilas in the Jalisco Highlands. The brand name honors the courageous women who fought in the Mexican Revolution, known as Las Adelitas, commemorated through the brand’s ongoing support of female spirits enthusiasts and trade. 

Culture News Restaurants

Legendary Di Fara Pizza Owner, Domenico ‘Dom’ DeMarco, Dies at 85

Photo: Marc Kharrat

As reported by Brooklyn Magazine, Domenico “Dom” DeMarco, the legendary owner of Di Fara Pizza in Brooklyn, New York, has passed away at the age of 85.

The above post on Di Fara Pizza’s Instagram account broke the news yesterday, as written by DeMarco’s daughter Maggie DeMarco-Mieles.

Di Fara Pizza was opened by DeMarco in 1965 and ascended to be one of the most celebrated restaurants in Brooklyn. The recognition and prestige garnered by the pizza joint then traveled well beyond the borough, quickly becoming one of the best slices in all of New York.

From there, national acknowledgement was inevitable for Demarco and Di Fara Pizza, as they acquired numerous accolades from food publications and critics that led to perpetually long lines and much success throughout the decades.

Foodbeast Marc Kharrat had a chance to pay a visit to Di Fara Pizza recently and had nothing but heaps of praise to say: “First time I got to try his pizza, I was fortunate enough to see him in action, carefully and meticulously putting a whole pie together with grace.The pizza itself is truly something special. The regular pie is thin and gorgeous, with each slice melting in my mouth A phenomenal crust and fresh basil puts everything over the top.”