JULY 10 EVENT: The Taste of Letters

Time: 9:30 a.m. EST / 2:30-3:30 BST / 3:30-4:30 p.m. CEST

In 2019, a two-month food-writing workshop called “The Taste of Letters” (طعم الحروف) took place at the Contemporary Image Collective in Cairo as part of Botoun (a series of workshops, film screenings, and an exhibition that engaged with the politics of food). “The Taste of Letters” became the title of a collection of texts that emerged from the workshop, and they appeared in English translation as part of the Summer 2021 issue of ArabLit Quarterly, guest-edited by Nour Kamel. In this panel, moderated by Nour Kamel, writers reflect on the various tastes that make up food writing in and through Arabic. Kamel is joined by writer, researcher, and filmmaker Salma Serry; the genre-spanning author of Food for Copts (2017) Charles Akl; and Mariam Boctor a member of Botoun’s curatorial team who helped facilitate “The Taste of Letters” workshop and translated some of its texts into English.

This event, supported by ArabLit Quarterly, will also launch the Summer 2021 KITCHEN issue.

There is no need to register.

You can simply show up at the YouTube page to join. However, if you would like a reminder, you can get one via this Facebook event page or EventBrite.


Nour Kamel (she/they) writes and edits things in Egypt. Their chapbook Noon is part of the New-Generation African Poets series and their writing can be found in Anomaly, Rusted Radishes, Ikhtyar, 20.35 Africa, Sumou and Mizna.

Kamel writes about identity, language, queerness, gender, oppression, family, and food.


Mariam Boctor is a writer, translator, curator and researcher based in Egypt. She is interested in Medicine, Food and Bodies. They are part feline and sing sometimes.

Her work has been featured in The Outpost, and Mada Masr, in addition to the Contemporary Image Collective.


Charles Akl is a writer, culture manager and architect. Akl writes tech articles and music reviews for Mada Masr and Ma3azef websites, and a number of short films, podcasts and pop science videos.

His published work includes Food for Copts (2017), The Undercommons (2019), Red like Orange (2020), and Jellybird (2021).


Salma Serry is a food studies researcher, writer, and filmmaker, holding an MA in journalism from the American University of Cairo. She is currently pursuing a graduate degree in food studies at Boston University. Her current research focuses on cookbooks of 20th century Egypt, as well as issues of identity and citizenship in the United Arab Emirates through food. This year, Salma is exhibiting her work in Dubai and Jeddah, supported by Art Jameel. Her daily journeys on food and research are on @sufra_kitchen, an Instagram platform that invites followers to insights of food culture and history in SWANA.

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