Meet Arifah, 22 year old from England. She’s here to talk to us about various things, but mostly about her most passionate subject: Food. She even wrote her dissertation on food!

Arifah was born in England, moved to Saudi Arabia at a young age, then Italy, and then back to England. Although she’s never lived in Pakistan, she says she has a ‘very desi family’, and is very well connected with her desi roots. Tune into this awesome, fun conversation and discover a wonderful person!


"My mom brought us up Muslim separate from Pakistani culture. She taught us the things she loves of Islam and it was really empowering. She said, [with this knowledge] we would not feel the peer pressure of drinking when growing up. I found Islam empowering in those ways.⁣ ⁣ If people ever asked me, 'oh, you don't drink?' I would say, 'I never have and never will.' I've never been curious, and will never do it. And they have so many questions, it's funny! I find it sad that when I ask most people, 'why do you drink?' they often can't give an answer. The most they'll say is, 'I like to relax / it's a social thing' and I can say, well, I can socialize and relax without drinking. ⁣ ⁣ I grew up in Italy - there weren't many Pakistanis or Muslims. I've always grown up around goray, and all my friends have always been non-Muslim. A lot of my friends were people who didn't want to be drinking at such a young age, actually, and going to parties and stuff. And my friends would use me as an excuse, as empowering them to get out of peer pressure. So if someone asked them to go to a party, they'd say 'Oh no, Arifa can't go, so I won't go.'⁣ ⁣ In school, we'd see American movies and TV shows showing these crazy things happening when kids partied, and I think there was pressure to create these memories as teenagers. So the kids would have these parties, but they would be really lame in England, not the same as America. They felt the need to come up with these stories, and say like things like, 'George got so drunk or whatever and did this...' And I started noticing - it didn't seem like anyone really had that much fun. I'd rather just sit at home and eat good food. Or invite my friends around for a sleep over."

"I never cooked for me alone. Every single meal I cooked at Uni, I cooked for another person. I don't think there was ever a time I cooked just for myself - maybe breakfast when I had oats, but even that I would make for my flatmates.⁣ ⁣ "I think I just had that desire to show other people Pakistani culture, growing up in a western country... and i think food is a really easy way to share that, without it being political or heavy. This street food kabab is not my culture, it's not just your drunken takeout, it's actually this - a home made kabab, taste it. And everyone loves it. And I must have fed easily 200 people at Uni. It's just so nice.⁣ ⁣ I think it was more for me, because I grew up eating every single meal with my family. It was only us five in every country, and we would have every meal that we could, together everyday. And I needed that when I went out - my sister got married, my brother left, and I was at Uni, so I did it more for me. I had people around, we ate together, and it was so nice - we didn't need anything to tlak about, I'd just be like, "Here's food!" And the topics really come out of food, when you share food with someone - random topics and stories come out. It's so fun."

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