New York City Food Tour #8: Palestinians in Manhattan and Brooklyn



PA213812.JPGIt is quantifiably challenging to estimate the number of Palestinians present in the United States, as although Palestinians have been known to migrate to the United States soon after 1908, the first significant wave of Palestinian emigration did not come about until after the formation of the Israeli state in 1948, at which point most came as refugees (Every Culture). According to the 2000 United States Census, there were approximately 72,112 people of Palestinian ancestry living in the United States; however, a number of researchers are settling on numbers closer to 200,000 (Every Culture).

In the United States, 46% of Palestinians have a college degree, as opposed to 18% of the entire Unites States Population (Every Culture) and partake in white-collar jobs, with those without college degrees more prone to take up small businesses or lay jobs in the service sector.



III. CURRENT CLIMATE in NYC:             

Palestinian Civic Participation:

When I Googled “Palestine in NYC”, and all of the relevant keywords, unfortunately not much came up, aside from activist groups like the Students for Justice in Palestine at New York University, which aims to “promote justice, human rights, liberation, and self-determination for the Palestinian people” (SJP), or the Palestine solidarity group, which “came together seeking to broaden the work being done on Palestine by opening up more expansive spaces of resistances”

I learned more about the current climate through my interview with Jumana, the owner of the Tanoreen restaurant (included in our food tour below):

“We don’t mix business and politics. Some people come in here to instigate, but we don’t allow it here. 80% of our customers are non-Arabs, and we consider ourselves cultural ambassadors. We’re cooking all of my grandmother’s recipes. We spread our culture through food. ”




Let us go back to hummus, but again, only as a symbol of both Israeli and Palestinian cuisine and where they intersect. Across the ocean, nationals in the United States are using food as a source of connection and collaboration: “On Thursday, hummus will become a symbol of peace as 15 Muslim and Jewish activists break bread together and participate in an all-day bus tour of Maryland, Washington D.C. and Virginia with a message of reconciliation. Bearing trays of homemade hummus and pita bread, the activists hope to spread the message that Muslims and Jews refuse to be enemies” (Huffington Post). This happened just this November 2015, really vibrantly depicting the emphasis that is placed on hummus and cross-cultural foods at the pinnacle of unanimity.

Here in New York City, one of my Uber drivers began telling me about how his friend was the owner of the Israeli Maoz vegetarian food chain, which inspired another interview with a Palestinian Uber driver included in this ethnographic landscaping. In fact, in addition to this, he reminded me that the hummus giant, Sabra, was founded by an American-Israeli entrepreneur, reflective of both the entrepreneurial and cultural ambassadorship of Israelis in the United States.

To that end, a 1976 quote on the website of Mamoun’s Falafel shop, which is also included in our tour, reminds us of the dynamism of this idea, which is not a new one in New York City:  “Henry Kissinger can take a lesson in diplomacy. Mamoun has Arabs and Jews sitting at the same table.”


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Interview w/ Palestinian Uber Driver:



“Most of the Palestinians or Egyptians, Lebanese or Muslim, their concern is to eat something that has no pork, so if I find an Israeli store or a Jewish store, I’m guaranteed 100% that there is no pork, so I go and buy my pork from there because I know that there is no pork, so that’s my priority, #1. No matter if they are from Israel, that’s not my concern now. But if I find some other store that has food 100% pork free- no pork, I’ll go to the other store”

Above all things, this brings us to the idea that consumption — and all aspects surrounding it pre and post-consumption are reflective of who you are and the community at large that you are a part of.

He proceeded to tell me about the process of the food, of what makes something halal as compared to kosher, and of the nutritional benefits of both of them. It’s what ‘we share’, he said.






Address: 22 St. Marks Place, New York, NY 10003

Phone: (212) 387-7747

Hours:  Sunday-Wednesday 11am-4am

Thursday-Saturday 11am-5am





About: “Situated in the heart of Greenwich Village in New York City, Mamoun’s Falafel has been serving high quality Middle Eastern Food since it first opened its doors to the public in 1971. It is the oldest falafel restaurant in New York and one of the first Middle Eastern establishments in the United States…Family owned and operated since the beginning, the restaurant is now part of the history and culture of the Village. Its tradition extends to serving the likes of many famous musicians, actors, and other celebrities…

What sets us apart from other Falafel restaurants is our rich tradition and history as well as our commitment to excellence. Our philosophy is simple: authentic Middle Eastern Cuisine served in a traditional environment. Everything we serve is made from scratch using only the freshest natural ingredients, the finest imported spices, and our signature recipes” (Mamoun’s)



As the self-proclaimed, oldest Middle Eastern Restaurant in New York City, it makes sense for us to begin the food-portion of our tour here. Here we’ll select from a range of classic items, including, hummus and falafel, but also more location-specific specialties like their eclectic baklavas and grape leaf dishes. Both Israel and Palestine are influenced by and contribute to the culinary sphere that is Middle Eastern food, so a taste of the Middle East is likewise a taste of Israel and Palestine. Let’s let our taste buds decide.





Address: 7523 3rd Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11209

Phone: (718) 748 – 5600

Hours:  Monday: Closed

Tuesday-Friday: 12pm – 10:30pm

Saturday-Sunday: 10:30am – 10pm



About: “…In 1998, TANOREEN was born to showcase the Middle Eastern home cooking I ate growing up, and reveal how it’s evolved since then… I’m not formally trained, but growing up in my mother’s kitchen I might as well have been…By that token, Tanoreen has varied in its fusions, but never deviated from its roots, a blend of classical Middle Eastern home-style cooking with delicious Mediterranean aromas. My cooking celebrates tradition and embraces change” (Tanoreen). This place embodies Middle Eastern cuisine; it embodies home, travel, a taste of Palestine in New York City, and all of the goodness that a mother-daughter business exudes. I had the pleasure of savoring many of Jumana and Rawia’s dishes, and even chatting with them about their establishment and the Palestinian community in Brooklyn.



As we end our tour, we will certainly be savoring many of their full-sized dishes, including traditional Mediterranean dishes and Rawia’s specialties. Their squash and lamb plates are to die for. For a souvenir of our tour and to recreate some of these delectable dishes back home, pick up a copy of Chef Rawia’s “Olives, Lemons & Za’atar” cookbook.


Mother and Daughter, Jumana (Left) & Rawia (Right)



Additional Locations:


International Supermarket in NYC – place where spices seem to ‘have their own language’—for Israeli/Palestinian goods :

123 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10016
212 685 3451

M-S 10am-8pm; SU 11am-7pm


Pita Express– Great pita Bread, ‘The Best in NYC’






Travel: tips, tricks and why I do it. Part II – HOW


How badly do you want it? I won’t preach, and I won’t deny that there are extenuating circumstances that may prevent individuals from setting aside funds for travel. And when I say travel (n.) I mean — going to another place for the sake of the place itself, for getting to know the place vs. vacationing (n.) — going to a place for the sake of yourself, relaxation, escape. The former already assumes a sacrifice, a potential sacrifice of comfort for the satisfaction of being, of experiencing, and of immersing yourself. In simpler terms, I travel to travel — to meet people, to eat their food, sleep where they sleep and learn how they live (as much as possible), versus to take part in their most luxurious offerings, catered to outsiders, often curated by outsiders themselves. Sometimes, the two overlap, of course, but assuming a life of travel vs. one of vacationing cuts down your costs in half + already. It’s all about the mentality.

For me — this means limiting my daily habits to cater to the greater, consistent goal of traveling as much as time permits. People have other vices.

Here’s how I do it:  

1231. Flights: 

I just recently began to involve myself with a points-credit card, which enables me to ultimately earn miles (equated to free travel miles on a plane) for my daily expenses. I.E. I’m still searching for options, but when I decide on one, I will update this.

In the meantime, what I’ve been doing is focusing on cheap flights — I’m healthy enough (at least for now) to endure long and uncomfortable flights if I have to. So 1-3 layovers for me is worth the trip, if it saves me serious money. And oftentimes, I don’t care where I’m going — flexibility is key.

Resources for finding cheap flights:

Flight Search Engines:
  • Skyscanner
  • Momondo
  • Kayak
  • Google Flights
  • Matrix Software: the site looks like it’s from the 1980s, but trust me, it’s good in its ways of helping you search for the most affordable options irrelevant of time and location; it’s used by many travel companies
Special Websites: — for when you don’t care about where you’re going, but you know you’re ready to leave 
  • Flight Deal
  • Secret Flying 
  • Entrusters: haven’t tried it, but apparently you can fly for free if you ship items for people around the world. It’s on my bucket list.
  • Travel Pirates
  • Groupon
  • Living Social
  • – I have yet to use it, but according to the founder on CNT: “I built this tool for people who are impulse flyers with flexible schedules. As one user recently put it, I am building a tool for the person who “…[wants to] know if I could suddenly get to Poland for $350”
  • Air Asia — for cheap flights to and in between Asia
  • WoW Air — for cheap flights between Boston, Washington DC + Europe
  • Norwegian Air — for cheap flights between the US + Europe
Random tips on flights:
  • Check foreign versions of website i.e. vs.
  • Clear history/cache — airlines keep your data and recent search history saved, often increasing prices just for you based on that
  • Call / pick up phone for better deals
  • Search for smaller airports in the same city, sometimes it’s cheaper to fly to/from there
  • Skiplagged — for finding cheap last minute flights
  • Purchase as close to a holiday as possible for a better deal
  • Cheap places to travel to by month: Travel and Leisure
  • If you travel on a budget airline, keep your luggage to about one carryon to avoid defraying your savings by extensive luggage costs
  •  Before booking your flight- make sure you have the necessary visa(s) you need; otherwise, if you can’t get it in time, you may end up losing your money! Sometimes with proof of upcoming flight you may get them expedited.
  •  To that end, make sure you have the necessary vaccinations needed (if in the US, according to the CDC).
2. Housing: 
  • Hostels, of course, if you’re a student and/or budget traveler
  • New! – TalkTalkBNB– I just found out about this network whereby hosts/travelers meet, with a similar concept to CS VV, but with the intention of learning new languages from each other. I have yet to test it, but it’s definitely in my plans!
  • — my personal favorite — for being hosted by or meeting up with locals (free, but it’s nice to bring a relevant gift to your host)
  • I just learned about Servas, also free and similar to CouchSurfing, but with a much more extensive application process whereby volunteers interview you for membership; stay is usually restricted to 1-2 nights
  • — hotel alternative, where you can rent rooms, entire homes, and even bungalows or tree houses, among other options during your stay
  • My Twin Place — for Homeswapping
  • WWOOFING — for housing in exchange for your paid and/or volunteer work around the world
3. Random Tips: 
  • Let your banks/phone companies know a few days before your departure that you will be leaving to avoid disruptions in either service
  • For best exchange rates: my experience is that the best is to get cash out from an ATM once you get there and not get currency inadvance for each country; also, when asked to pay in your home currency or in theirs, it’s always best to go with theirs for the best rates
  • Take out the ‘deodorant’ in a deodorant bar and stuff it with cash/ credit cards or other valuables…I just learned this from attending the Women’s Travel Fest in March — Annie Griffiths, National Geographic’s first female photographer does this
  • Especially if you’re traveling extensively, make sure that you have the necessary medication prescriptions pre-approved for that time with your insurance — sometimes this may take weeks due to extensive paperwork and proof of travel
  • Check airport terminal of departure, as well as updates on flights as close to the night before or the day of to avoid wasting time in case your flights do get cancelled or terminals change
  • Check the currency the day of travel to know where your currency stands agains that of the destination
  • When done traveling then make sure to claim miles or rewards points from the respective airline, if it’s not done so automatically
  • Be aware of the country’s dialing code and of any relevant emergency numbers – keep a note of it on your phone!
  • Wikipedia, WikiTravel or do a simple Google search (for me on the plane or at airport) to have a fresh outlook on the history and culture / what to do in the country (if you’re being spontaneous) right before landing
  • Don’t board the plane right away if you’re not in business class because you’ll have to wait —  they will mostly always call your name if you’re late/if the plane is waiting for you
  • Always check to see the power outlet of the country / if you’ll need one of these universal converters
  • I like to lay down on the tray table of the airplane, when other positions are unbareable, but maybe clean it first since apparently it harbors more bacteria than your toilet
  • Sit near first class lounge for free wifi
  • When done traveling then make sure to claim miles or rewards points from the respective airline, if it’s not done so automatically
  • If you need a last minute passport (in the US), just show up at a local government agency! Don’t fall for local scams. Also, for some reason, they’re not allowed to tell you on the phone that they accept walk-ins, but my experience is that walk-ins are taken care of faster than those with an appointment.
  • Roll your clothing like this for space saving in your bags/suitcases – Video + Video <— this one is just WOW; a girl packs 100 pieces of clothing into a carryon
  • Bring a water container, so you don’t have to pay for water – most places like Starbucks etc. will refill it for free— bring a filter for non-potable water (you’d be surprised how much you spend on water!)
  • Wear neutrals that can be washed/ mixed and matched and worn on different occasions to save room
  • Layers are your best friend!
  • Less is more! – Don’t bring emergency items like an umbrella, if you know that you can purchase them cheaply in the location (should you even need them), especially if the weather does not suggest rain.
  • Google Maps – works offline now, so you can use the application in the country of destination; it’s like a modern-day compass ?
  • Download necessary maps + translators before getting to destination, just in case you don’t have wifi when you land

Road Trip resources:

For Renting an RV: Cruise America
Maps and other resources:
Additional Resources: 


Where I’ve been so far according to TripAdvisor: where i've been

PPS; It’s not super accurate, since I’ve never been to Australia/ it confused some other cities for being there

*I will continue to update this blog post


Travel: tips, tricks and why I do it. Part I – WHY

This one is for my friends, my family, to those who’ve asked me about traveling, how and why I do it.
It starts with this picture. It’s not me, but my mother. I think about it all the time. She’s one with the horse, one with the land, the precise land where she was born —- eventually the land she left in pursuit of the somewhat banished American Dream. In her pursuit, I was born, caught in between two lives, two lands and two languages. From the beginning, I was in-between.
When you’re caught in between, you never know the truth. You only hear about it; its vague existence. And in a world pre-social media, pre-fast-connection, traveling was the only way to find out the answer. The search for truth precipitates all of my travel. Before, it was my mother, wanting to see her family back in the ol’ land. It was her, who wanted to know the truth about their existence before her eyes. I was often her +1.
mom and me
Now, it’s me, wanting to know the truth about the world, instead of hearing it and having to believe it. Although many of my travels have consisted of a purpose stemming from educational or recreational values, the idea for it was one that was implanted in my youth — based on familial and cultural values. I was never fully American. You don’t need my looks to tell you. I don’t even have to open my mouth. The hyphen says it all. Dominican  American.
At the time of this blog post, I will have traveled to 50+ countries — (of course, never counting the layovers). It started off with family, family visits each year to the ‘homeland’ and then on cruises — always, again, with family. In high school, I participated in an exchange program and traveled to Europe for the first time and then to France, which became my second home, my second culture outside of the United States and the Dominican Republic.
The idea of embracing a third skin, becoming one with the culture and with the people is an irreplaceable feeling. In college, I made it a point to incorporate studying abroad into my education — how else, I wondered, could I truly consider myself an ‘International Business’ major. This desire — which I believe the universe recognized — manifested itself in me studying abroad three times, twice through my beloved Semester at Sea program, and once through a program to France, where I lived alone for the first time and furthered my love for all things-French, including my friends, who are now family.

Today, I travel for travel. I still travel for work (via Kitchen Connection), for love, for friends, for family, but mostly for the love of travel – and for the love of life, the two, complementary.

I hope to share this passion with you. In part two of this blog I will discuss how I afford to travel and explore the differences of what, to me, is travel versus vacationing.