literary food blog, for readers with good taste.

At The Table With...Yvonne Maffei of My Halal Kitchen


Today we're cozying up to Yvonne Maffei, the half-Puerto Rican, half-Sicilian blogger behind My Halal Kitchen. For those who don't know, "halal" refers to the Muslim food standards, similar to the way "kosher" describes what Judaism deems proper to eat. The basic halal rules determine how animals are slaughtered for meat, and forbid pork and alcohol. What I like about Yvonne's blog most is that she shares recipes that are enticing, delicious and healthy — and that happen to adhere to the halal standard. Hers is a perfect example of a blog built around a dietary restriction that would encourage even the wildest omnivore to try a bite.

Read on to get to know Yvonne!

What is your all-time favorite book?

Will Write for Food by Dianne Jacob. It’s the book that helped me go from wishing to actively working on my food writing career. I’m eternally grateful for all the information she shares in this book.

What meal do you love to cook?

Pasta with Homemade Marinara Sauce made fresh from garden tomatoes, garlic, basil, a pinch of sugar and the best quality olive oil. The smell of it reminds me of summer in Sicily and of my grandparents whose home was filled with a huge pot of this sauce just about every Sunday of my childhood. 

What is your favorite food scene from a book?

In the book On Rue Tatin by Susan Hermann Loomis, I love how she describes the children’s school lunches in her adopted home of Normandy, France. It’s the way I’ve always thought should be part of a real school food lunch and how I would have loved to eat at school growing up. 

Coffee or tea?

Strong coffee, with cream.

What is the last book you abandoned?

Something that had to do with physics. If you knew me well enough, you would understand why I just couldn’t finish it — and I typically finish all of the books I read.

Author you'd most like to meet for dinner, and your order?

Frances Mayes, author of Bella Tuscany and Under the Tuscan Sun. She is one of the first and most impressionable travel writers I began to admire for finding a beautiful place in the world to live and do her writing. I particularly love that she restored an old home and created a life in a place where she also grasped the culinary gem of her adopted home in a small town in Italy. I actually got to meet her while I was living in San Francisco and she was on tour for Bella Tuscany, but it was quite a short meeting. If I could sit with her for dinner, I’d order a local pasta dish made with a buttery, creamy sauce topped with the local porcini mushrooms and ask her all about the unique foods she’s had while living there. I’ll pass on any wine, of course.

Where do you go to find new recipes? New reads?

Saveur magazines or Saveur.com or I browse my home library shelves which are jam-packed with books and magazines.

My own library shelves. I can’t throw books away so I have many books to finish reading that were gifts or ones I’ve not yet had time to read.

Tell us about your blog — the inspiration for it, why you blog and your favorite aspects.

My Halal Kitchen is a source of information for anyone looking for wholesome recipes, cooking tips and lifestyle inspiration. For those who don’t know what halal means, it literally translates to “permissible” from the Arabic language and is used to describe everything from food to fashion to finance. For Muslims following Islamic laws regarding these areas of life, choosing halal is a lifestyle choice. When it comes to food, there is so much more that is halal than is not, as the world is abundant with food choices that are considered permissible within the Islamic faith. The two most common substances that are not considered halal are pork and alcohol as well as all of the ingredients or byproducts made with them. There is so much more to halal than can be discussed here, but you can read more on my site.

The mission of My Halal Kitchen is to provide home cooks with the tools to prepare completely halal meals, including those with the necessary substitutions to make every dish halal and without having to filter a recipe for non-halal ingredients. It aims to make the lives of readers better by expanding the list of available recipes that are wholesome, healthy, delicious, economical and halal. 

My favorite part of the site is being able to create content that is beautiful and demonstrates all that is good and gorgeous about our natural world. 

What are your favorite blogs, and why?

The Martha Blog, because I learn so much from her. The Pioneer Woman, because her stories really do make me laugh out loud. 

Connect with Yvonne: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

In Pictures: The Good Food Festival

Bookmarked: The Reading While Eating Edition