A Pilgrimage of Cultural Cuisines

A self-proclaimed global nomad, Hanan Sayed Worrell has resided on four continents and travelled extensively, allowing her to move adeptly between cultures and cuisines, and to relentlessly pursue her hobby as an international urban recipe hunter. As a careful and affectionate observer of Abu Dhabi for a quarter of a century, she is uniquely qualified to guide others on a culinary pilgrimage by way of its streets, homes and flavors.

Worrell grew up in Kuwait and was educated in the United States, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering at Stanford University. Through her professional career she has contributed to several impactful projects in the region, including New York University Abu Dhabi. The connections she has made both professionally and personally form the rich tapestry of friendships presented in her book, Table Tales: The Global Nomad Cuisine of Abu Dhabi.

Table Tales presents a taste of the cosmopolitan community of the city. With its multicultural population, Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates, offers an immense tapestry of cuisines. Table Tales is the story of communities forming themselves through the sharing of food, traditions and culture. The book is organized by decade, showcasing the global nomads who came to call Abu Dhabi home in each decade and the recipes they cherish. Readers also meet Emiratis who share traditional family recipes, inviting us to sample a cuisine that is largely unknown. As the city has grown, a thriving urban food culture has emerged to include everything from food trucks to contemporary restaurants. Besides home cooks, Table Tales introduces us to some of the restaurateurs behind this culinary culture of reinvention and collaboration. Whether you like to travel, cook, read, or just have a glimpse of a cast of fascinating individuals, this beautiful, full-color book will take you on a truly global voyage, with eye-popping photos by Martin Nicholas Kunz and Heike Fademrecht.

The culinary sphere of Abu Dhabi has expanded incredibly. In the early 1960s, inhabitants of the sparsely populated fishing village existed on seafood, dates, goat milk yogurt and some imported foodstuffs such as rice. Once oil production began, more imported items arrived, but the selection was limited. The expatriates who came to Abu Dhabi in the mid-twentieth century brought their recipes from home but often found themselves in a cooking experiment when they had to substitute original ingredients with what was locally available. For Emiratis, who welcomed the multicultural communities, native food and customs became infused with flavors and spices from around the globe. As the city grew, cooking and entertaining friends at home became an integral ritual in how people bonded with each other. The eccentric selection of recipes in Table Tales illustrates the diverse global nomad cuisine of the city and the universal nature of a dish served with generosity and love.

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