Article published in ANBA by Bruna Garcia Fonseca
‘Dates and Kibbeh’ was written by Isa Colli of Espírito Santo, Brazil, who currently lives in Belgium. “Dates and Kibbeh” was released in Portuguese an English, and an Arabic version is expected soon. The e-book is available from the writer’s website, and a print version is available here.
Educational children’s books author Isa Colli’s “Dates and Kibbeh” came out in November. The book traces back the history of Arab immigration to São Paulo. An Arab culture aficionada, Colli had a stint living in the Brás neighborhood of the city, where she found out about the history of Hospedaria do Brás, a public lodge which welcomes immigrants from multiple nationalities, including Syrian and Lebanese.
“I wrote ‘Dates and Kibbeh’ very unpretentiously, because I love the culture and the cuisine of the Middle East, and because I am a granddaughter of Spanish and Portuguese immigrants. And while living in Brás, I found out how immigrants have been welcomed since the 18th century, through some grandiose work that’s done until this day. I pieced it all together and wrote a fictional book based on that,” Colli told ANBA on the phone.
The book tells the tale of Portugal’s José Braz, who used to welcome immigrants from all over at his farm. The place ultimately becomes populated with incredible characters, like Mr. Mohamed, an Arab merchant who owned a spice shop and an Arab restaurant. The little boy Zezinho is awed by the scents and flavors of this hitherto unknown culture.