Karimah Omar Nabulsi grew up in a big family where food was a celebration. She and her brothers and sisters would gather in the kitchen with her mother, laughing and talking while they prepared meals – it was a true act of love and creativity. “We all knew how much love mama put into our food and how much she enjoyed cooking for us. It was an expression of her love and joy and it was contagious as well as delicious!” Karimah’s beautiful smile beams as she remembers her childhood.
It is no wonder she grew up to love cooking and uses it as an expression of love and celebration for her own family. As the mother of five, her family and community are at the center of her life.
When Karimah immigrated to the US in the 1970s, she found herself is a small New England town on the NH seacoast. Interestingly, she quickly began to feel right at home. “What was so wonderful for me was how similar Exeter was to my own small village so far away. There were plenty of fresh vegetables, small farms, and farmers markets. The strong sense of community here reminded me so much of my home.” She says.
With her children’s encouragement, Karimah decided to open Karimah’s Kitchen. Her family told her to do what she loved and did so well – cooking traditional Lebanese foods. She found the Seacoast’s wealth of fresh vegetables and herbs were perfect for her recipes – it was a magical combination. However, at first Karimah was not sure what to expect. “I was selling a very different food, I am from a different country, so I wasn’t sure how people would respond,” She confesses. She decided to test the waters by having an open house where people could get to know her and sample her cooking. She went around Exeter putting up flyers and talking with shop owners to help get the word out. The day of her open house 90 people showed up at her door. “I was happily overwhelmed by the turnout,” she says. “It was emotional for me. I was thrilled. Everyone was so encouraging and supportive.”
Since her open house, business has continued to grow. Karimah sells her delicious, prepared foods at farmers markets and the Farm at Eastman’s Corner. She also does catering and cooking classes. Karimah says she is lucky to be able to cook for her community. She loves knowing she is providing something that not only tastes great but it is good for you. “We are lucky to have such a wonderful, open-hearted community, I am very grateful.” We are grateful for her love and passion for middle eastern cooking. Karimah gives us something to celebrate!