Thanks to all of you that wrote about how you enjoyed the first travel vlog to Dearborn Michigan! Some of you said that it was too short, lucky for you there is a part two, and this one focuses mainly on the cuisine of Yemen. I have wanted to cover Yemen’s culinary contribution for so long, as their country has been through so much agony in the past few years. Sadly the narrative of war has superseded any other description of Yemen, which has an ancient and rich history. Traveling around Dearborn, I learned that there is a large Yemeni community there, so I saw this as a perfect opportunity to give their culture a voice on my channel.
If you drive by block after block in Dearborn, you will see countless Arab restaurants, cafes, and supermarkets dominate the landscape, each more tantalizing than the other. One day you can sip on cardamom scented Yemeni coffee, the next you can feast on Iraqi lamb shanks, and the next you can nibble on fresh baklava right out of the oven brimming with Turkish pistachios. Even the highway billboards feature prominent Arab lawyers and politicians, and the city now boasts the country’s first Arab American National Museum.
Dearborn has become an Arab food mecca in the United States, where you can sample culinary delights from every Arab country imaginable. This city now boasts the largest and most diverse Arab community in the United States. Out of the city’s 98,000 residents, more than 30% identify as Arab-American or claim some form of Arab descent.
As Arab food is closely tied in with Arab identity, the cafes and restaurants have provided a home away from home, where friends and families gather to enjoy the flavors of their childhoods. One example is Ibrahim Alhasbani, a Yemeni American who wanted to recreate the coffee he grew up with in Yemen. Acting on this wish, he created Qahwah House, with the word “Qahwah” meaning coffee. He not only serves coffee, he tells the story of his home country through the dramatic Yemeni artwork decorating the walls. The coffee is served in elegant glass kettles, and unique desserts like the famous honeycomb shaped pastry called “Sabaya” round out the immersive Yemeni experience.
Next I cover one of the most popular Yemeni restaurants in Michigan, called Remas. You can feel the warmth and generosity the minute you step through the door, and I got to sample so many gorgeous dishes! You can check out my tour of both Qahwah House and Remas in the new video below:
Some Yemeni dishes to try if you ever find yourself at a Yemeni restaurant are:
- Fahsah – a stew with a tomato base using either slow cooked lamb, chicken or tuna. The stew is served in clay pots and arrives bubbling hot. This stew is perfect with a crispy and chewy Yemeni flatbread called Malawah
- Haneeth – slow cooked lamb that falls off the bone, The meat is marinated overnight and then cooked for at least 2 hours
- Fassolia – a pancake made with kidney or white beans that tastes like a cross between mashed potatoes and ful mudamas, or the Egyptian fava bean dip
- Masoub is a Yemeni dessert that consists of mashed bananas and bread that are usually enriched with butter, cream, spices, honey, and dates. Masoub is traditionally served on large plates, and it is meant to be enjoyed as a communal meal.
After stuffing myself with Yemeni food, I headed off to Dearborn Fresh for a massive middle eastern shopping experience. As you peruse the thousands of square feet in this store, you can find both fresh and frozen middle eastern favorites, from Mujadara and Kibbeh to Katayef turnovers and homemade labneh cheese. Fragrant pantry staples like sumac and za’atar are sold by the pound, and novelty items like semolina cake mixes and fattoush salad dressings line the shelves. Bins are brimming with pastel colored candied chickpeas, turkish delights with fried fruits and nuts, and sticky sesame candies from overseas.
While some may be intrigued by Arab culture and food but find a plane ticket to the other side of the world daunting, Dearborn Michigan is an excellent primer for an authentic middle eastern experience. The hospitality and warmth of these businesses beckon and welcome any visitor open to new and exciting cultural escapades.