EVA ABDULLAH: Cooking in Nashville since 1996

Dirty Page: Date Bars

photo: Andrea Behrends   

photo: Andrea Behrends


In Minnesota, where Eva Abdullah grew up, it’s all about the baking.

“Funerals are about baking. Everything’s about the baking,” she says. “My grandma didn’t have a dinner without dessert. So I blame my sweet tooth on her.”

That’s part of why Eva wrote down this recipe for her grandmother’s date bars just after she married her Kurdish husband, Meran. The couple moved to Nashville in 1996.

And while those baked good from her Irish family have stayed with her, Eva estimates that about 75% of the family’s meals are now Kurdish. Think lentil soups spooned over rice and homemade yogurt for breakfast.

“When I got married, I knew how important my husband’s culture was to him, and so I wanted to incorporate it in our life together,” she says. Plus a lot of their foods are delicious, “so why not learn them, you know? Little by little I would learn those and incorporate them in my cooking repertoire. But I cook other ethnic foods too. I don’t stay strictly Kurdish.”

While about 25% of her home meals involve Italian or soul food, she’s also been working on putting together a Kurdish cookbook. Many of the recipes from her husband’s culture have been passed down verbally or through practice—rather than on paper—so she’s working to strike a balance that’s authentic and precise in recording the ingredients and measurements.

“Part of the art of cooking those kinds of foods is to do it on your whim—on your fancy—or whatever ingredients you’re inspired by.” 

Cindy Wall