Today we're getting reacquainted with Hanifa Haris, the 25-year-old Brooklyn blogger behind A Table for Two at 212. I first met Hanifa a few years ago when I was editing a South Asian news and entertainment blog and she covered art for us. With a background in art and photography, Hanifa brought an intelligent, thoughtful and surprising perspective to the table — one I was impressed by then and one I am happy to see reflected in her intermingling of food and art on her blog now.
Read on to get to know Hanifa!
What is your all-time favorite book?
It's so hard for me to just name one book. Different periods in my life are defined by different books. For me, my favorite books have always been inspiring adventures where I am inhibiting worlds, experiencing and challenging conceptions. One of my favorite quotes comes to mind: “That's the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet.” (Jhumpa Lahiri, The Namesake.) I would say that my early twenties were defined by these books: The Karma of Brown Folk, The Things They Carried, and a vintage collection of Allama Iqbal poetry that my sister picked up in a used bookstore in London.
What meal do you love to cook?
I come from a large family (I am one of four) and am used to cooking for six and now that I am only cooking for two, we often have leftovers. So with abundant rice, I have started to cook variations of rice. My favorite is sweet and spicy egg fried rice. It's an involved process but fun and delicious, my favorite kind of cooking.
What is your favorite food scene from a book?
In Orhan Pamuk's My Name is Red, the scenes and descriptions of the coffee houses were alluring and reminiscent of what I imagine some of my favorite artists and intellects must have experienced. Pamuk's description reveals the allure of food and drinks is beyond the obvious and all about the subtle nuances that spaces create and the creativity they indulge.
Coffee or tea?
Both. Always and forever. I can't choose. My morning kick is usually chai and then I dwindle to some lovely drip coffee. I am obsessed with caffeine and need my options.
What is the last book you abandoned?
I am always reading two/three books at a time and abandon books too frequently. I am currently in between three books at the time: A Tree Grows in Brooklynby Betty Smith, On Beauty by Zadie Smith and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig.
Author you'd most like to meet for dinner, and your order?
Rumi or E.E. Cummings. My heart is melting just thinking of it. I would want to meet him/them for a light sweet sometime in the evening where we could watch the sunset and sip a tasty beverage together.
Where do you go to find new recipes? New reads?
I am the annoying person that says hello to strangers on my commute and asks how they are doing. Naturally, we start talking and I inevitably ask the strangers what they love to cook. Then I look it up and attempt to make it.
I am blessed with loved ones who enjoy reading as much as I do, so I will ask for recommendations and if I'm not in the mood to ask someone, I follow the Best Of lists and subscribe to a couple of book club lists!
Tell us about your blog — the inspiration for it, why you blog, and your favorite aspects.
A Table for Two at 212 is the product of love, curiosity and the need to record. My initial inspiration to start the blog was simple: I am obsessed with photography, love cooking and am always attempting to record recipes and share them. My partner and I collect photography and art books together, so recently I have started pairing art works/books to recipes. I am very excited about continuing this project on the blog!!
What are your favorite blogs, and why?
I have so many. I love The Sartorialist for fashion. For photography, I love Conscientious and The New Yorker's Photo Booth. For Culture: Flavorwire. For food: Apt. 2b Baking Company. I would be lying if I didn't include PAPER/PLATES! EatFoo, 101 Cookbooks, The Hungry Australian, Take A Megabite, Smitten Kitchen, Honest Food and Use Real Butter.
I could go on. I love blogs and the communal spirit of blogging!