While growing up in St. Louis, Missouri, Ramzy Farouki would make hummus with his mother, Mervat. “It was definitely a thing we made as a family,” Farouki says. “It’s easy to delegate — you can just tell a kid, ‘skim the froth off of the boiling chickpeas.’”
Farouki’s mother moved from Jerusalem to Kuwait to the United States in the 1970s, but she found a tightly knit Palestinian community in St. Louis. She gave Farouki an understanding of what it was like to live in Jerusalem: the diversity, the food, the cosmopolitan nature of the city itself. “She’s my best friend, we spent our whole lives together, but she is a cultural coffer, truly,” he says. “Not in an academic sense, but in those lived experiences.”
Farouki has dedicated much of his life to the academic study of his culture at the Center for Study & Preservation of Palestine, which he founded. But he wanted to create a space that honors her and the rich culture of Palestine. So, in May, Farouki will open Jerusalem Rose, a Palestinian market and deli on MLK serving his family’s own hummus, house pickles, and produce from small farmers. The nonprofit market will donate its profits to the CSPP. “The undertext here is that my mother is the Jerusalem Rose,” he says. “She is the most important person in my life; she is the person who has taught me everything about where I’m from.”
Jerusalem Rose is meant to replicate some of the small markets found throughout Jerusalem, selling things like fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, and deli items grown or made nearby. “It’s also a community center — people learn where their food comes from, it’s a place of socializing, it’s a place of meeting,” he says. “It’s not your average (market where) you walk in, get your stuff, and check out. You have to interact with the person who is working there.”
One of the crucial cornerstones of Jerusalem Rose will be a large “farm table,” with seasonal produce from Pacific Northwestern growers like Kasama Farm and x̌ast sq̓it (Good Rain) Farm. More delicate produce will land in some of the market’s cold storage, as well as things like hummus, pickled vegetables called torshi, and the family’s garlicky labneh. In the future, Farouki would like to sell his family’s makdous, a stuffed eggplant dish, but the aforementioned three will remain in the cooler at all times.
On the shelves, Farouki plans to stock plenty of Palestinian imports, as well as goods from Southwestern Asia and Northern Africa: high-quality Palestinian olive oil and honey, breads from Iraqi and Persian bakers, freekeh. “There is a Palestinian community here, and I want a space for people to go and celebrate. But almost more important, I want a place to introduce people to Palestinian culture, Palestinian experience,” he says. “There are many cultures that exist in Jerusalem. I want to represent them or hint to them or nuance them; I want to celebrate the plurality of Jerusalem in that sense.”
Jerusalem Rose will open in mid-May at 2948 NE MLK.
• Jerusalem Rose [Instagram]