Gazan chef seeks to spread Chinese food culture in local community-Xinhua

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Ibrahim Badwan, a chef, displays a Chinese dish at Mzaaq center for culinary arts education, in Gaza City, Feb. 6, 2022. (Photo by Rizek Abdeljawad/Xinhua)

by Sanaa Kamal

GAZA, Feb. 12 (Xinhua) — Ibrahim Badwan, one of the most famous Palestinian chefs in the coastal enclave, is leading a new trend in his local community — cooking Chinese food.

For many years, the young Palestinian man used to work at famous and prominent restaurants as he specialized in making various kinds of Arab and international dishes.

Two years ago, Badwan, as well as all Gazans, were forced to stay at home when the Hamas-run local authorities imposed a full lockdown on the region to curb the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The 30-year-old chef told Xinhua that he decided to invest leisure time in learning new international dishes that he would prepare after the lockdown was over.

“The Chinese dishes were among my new interests. I like this cuisine so much as it contains all healthy ingredients,” the chef said, adding “then I came up with an idea to learn more about this new cuisine, mainly as it is a different one from what our people are used to.”

The chef explained that the Palestinians thought that the Chinese dishes were mainly based on insects, cockroaches and killed animals like monkeys, donkeys, dogs, and others. The reality is entirely different, he said.

“I found that Chinese food is very nutritional and is also very balanced and provides everything your body and metabolism needs,” he added.

Chinese cuisine is rich in vitamins and proteins, as it relies heavily on vegetables, meat and fish, and rice. Vegetables are widely included in most Chinese dishes and they are not fully cooked in order to retain their nutritional benefits and distinctive fresh taste.

The young chef was determined to spread the culture of Chinese cuisine among Gazans and joined several online workshops.

“I spent about a year learning my new dishes… Once I finished cooking, I took photos of them and posted them on my Facebook and Instagram with their names and ingredients,” the young man said while he was standing at his kitchen ready to prepare a Chinese dish.

“At that time, I have prepared lots of famous Chinese dishes, such as spring rolls, noodles, wonton soup, kung pao chicken, shrimp and fish dishes, as well as many other delicious dishes,” he recalled.

When he published his Chinese recipes on Facebook, he received hundreds of comments, with some asking how he managed to integrate them into the Palestinian culture.

“I answered their questions and told them about the benefits of Chinese food, which is very healthy and delicious. The only thing we need is to accept other cultures and try them, then we will taste new food and recognize a new culture without even leaving our area,” the man added.

Now, he organizes dozens of workshops to teach others how to prepare Chinese food and adopt it at home to enjoy its rare and unique taste.

Samah al-Masri, a Gaza-based woman in her 30s, was one of the chef’s students. She told Xinhua that she was happy to adopt a new recipe on her food table, after finishing her lessons with Badwan.

“Some Chinese dishes are compatible with the Palestinian culture, especially those characterized by spicy taste,” the woman said, adding that “the Chinese cuisine is healthier and helps us keep our weights.”

The young chef hopes to open a restaurant in Gaza specializing in Chinese cuisine, and have the opportunity to import all Chinese ingredients from broad to let Gazans enjoy its original taste.

It is difficult for Gazans to find all the Chinese ingredients in the coastal enclave, which pushes them to find alternatives.

“Gaza is a tourism area and someday we will have a chance to live in peace and we will receive the tourists around the world, then I will let them enjoy these dishes for sure,” the chef said.

Ibrahim Badwan, a chef, prepares Chinese dishes at Mzaaq center for culinary arts education, in Gaza City, Feb. 6, 2022. (Photo by Rizek Abdeljawad/Xinhua)

Ibrahim Badwan, a chef, displays Chinese dishes at Mzaaq center for culinary arts education, in Gaza City, Feb. 6, 2022. (Photo by Rizek Abdejawad/Xinhua)

Ibrahim Badwan, a chef, prepares Chinese dishes at Mzaaq center for culinary arts education, in Gaza City, Feb. 6, 2022. (Photo by Rizek Abdeljawad/Xinhua)

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