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Shayma launched her blog, The Spice Spoon, when she moved from Rome to Canada. She didn't crave the Italian food that she'd just left behind. Rather, she yearned for the food (and memories) of her family and heritage -- an intoxicating mix of Pakistani, Afghan and Persian cuisines.
When she moved to Canada "for love and marriage," she says, she felt isolated and a bit lonely. She began cooking the foods that reminded her of childhood, like the kulfi popsicles she would eat for a “snackette” after school in Lagos, Nigeria and the Cardamom Almond Cake she baked in 7th grade -- her first ever. There is also a thick, creamy kheer, or Pakistani rice pudding, that seems to have a kind of transportive effect on Shayma.
Though she didn't grow up cooking from them, Shayma shows a talent for writing straightforward and easy-to-read recipes. She learned to cook with her grandmothers and mother who, she says, “cook intuitively, by method of loose estimation—andaaza in Urdu. In our part of the world, cooking techniques and recipes are passed on through an oral tradition.” This is how Shayma still cooks today, except when she needs to record a recipe to preserve and share on her blog.
The Spice Spoon is really as much a memoir as it is a blog. Shayma lovingly recounts all of the foods of her heritage, and pays true homage to her mother and father with beautiful old photographs. It is almost as fun to read as it is to cook from.