Nice to meet you here. My name is Merijn and I cook, develop recipes, write for magazines and newspapers, i make cookbooks, i do food styling and I love to start all kinds of food related projects, smaller or bigger (like a pop-up cooking on a farm among others).
I’m based in Amsterdam.
My passion and love are mostly devoted to the Mediterranean kitchens from the east to the west, from Beirut to Marrakech and from Palermo to Tehran and everything in between. And sometimes outside too.
A (still going strong) learning journey took me to kitchens to cook (a lot!) with Mediterranean mothers and ladies. You probably know some of those Italian or Lebanese mama’s that can tell you with fierce precision that something should be done exactly like they tell you. ‘Don’t you dare to change it! Because we do it like this.’
I nod and obey with a smile. In reality of course I don’t. At home I change recipes, add this and that according to my taste. But still, I respect their authentic recipes . I will always have the tradition in mind whenever I freak around. To me that is essential. Otherwise we lose kitchens and recipes and everything becomes dressed with pesto and mozza. Mixed up and lost culture. You know…food is culture. And because these kitchens are now so popular and there is za’atar and dukkah everywhere on the menu. We just have to make sure it does not end up somewhere strange. But that doesn’t make me less creative as a cook…..on the contrary.
I got the luck over the past 10 years to see many kitchens and to cook with numerous women in the broad Mediterranean. I lived for some years partly in Beirut, working on a social food project. What a joy (and sometimes the opposite, like everything there). Streets heavenly scented of za’atar in the morning and the smell of cardamom coffee in between. And so many dishes I got to meet. To me Beirut is home.
I agree with Rumi:
‘My soul is from elsewhere, I'm sure of that, and I intend to end up there’.
So while those kitchens may not be the kitchens I was born with, they do feel like that. I started cooking when I was 18. I was for the first time living on my own, surrounded by Turkish and Moroccan shops. That’s were I felt at home. With the warmhearted people.
I love how food takes you to people and their stories. I like to give them a voice. I like the mix of people. We are all the same.
I live in Amsterdam with my husband Said and our happy daughter Anaroz. But you can still find me roaming the streets and food of Beirut and elsewhere. I cook up storms in my tiny little kitchen fully stacked. But chances are that one day we’ll be closer to the olives and the sun.
I co-wrote some 8 books on the broad mediterranean Arabic kitchen, with co-author Nadia Zerouali. Two of them were translated into English. Under the shade of Olive trees and SOUQ, and the next one Under the Mediterranean sun, will follow in 2019 at Smith Street books.
My first solo book, will be published in fall 2019….you can guess the subject maybe;-)
And here you can find my product range SOUQ, with high quality delicatessen from the Middle East, Morocco and our own blends of spices and sauces. We source from small local producers. Only available in The Netherlands at Marqt and this webshop. And a brand new SOUQ brand at well known Dutch supermarket Albert Heijn.
For collaborations write me at Merijn@oranjebloesem.nl
Or feel free to mail me to share thoughts, recipes, flavours or other things.
Warmest and speak soon!