Featured image credit: Amanda Saab via Facebook
Amanda Saab lives in Michigan, USA. Back in 2015, she became the first Muslim woman to compete on the American version of Masterchef. While the reaction to her appearance on the show was largely positive, there were a few comments on social media that made her think, she told the Washington Post, that ‘my existence in the world is bothersome to some people.’
Amanda soon realised that many Americans had a total lack of knowledge of Islam and Muslim people, and it certainly didn’t help that they were getting all of their information about Muslims from television.
So she set out to try and change this. Using her well-documented culinary skills, Amanda and her husband, Hussein, began hosting interfaith dinners at their home – inviting neighbours, strangers and even the Uber driver who picked her up from the supermarket after she had purchased over $200 worth of food for one of the get togethers.
In an interview with NBC News, she explained why food fosters understanding between different people: ‘Let’s start at a basic fundamental need that we all need, which is nourishment and let’s not only nourish our stomachs, but let’s nourish our minds.’
Although it’s often understated, food acts as an incredible touchstone of conversation between people of different cultures, backgrounds and faiths. While we may have our differences, it’s very easy to find common ground over a dish, meaning dialogue can flow from there.
This is clearly something Amanda understands. She hopes her events, which she calls ‘Dinner with a Muslim Neighbour’, will encourage people of different faiths to get together over a delicious meal. As she travels across the country in the wake of her Masterchef appearance, Saab is also able to spread the word herself, hosting dinners all over the United States. Under the hashtag #DinnerWithAMuslim neighbour, Amanda shows how easy it is to invite people over, eat great food, and get a conversation going:
While the goal is to inspire tolerance and end Islamophobia, Amanda also wants to get people eating better food. Her blog is full of delicious recipes and, quite frankly, we need to stop looking at her Instagram as it’s making us hungry:
If Amanda’s story has inspired you to do something similar, then there’s an event this summer (in Britain, BTW) where you’ll get the chance. From June 16-18, thousands of street parties, barbecues, picnics and the like will take place across the country as part of The Great Get Together. The weekend marks one year since the tragic murder of MP Jo Cox. It aims to continue her legacy and reflect her famous words: ‘we have more in common than that which divides us’.
If you want to find out how to get involved, head to The Great Get Together website.