The Egyptian-Greek home cook shares memories around the table, her favourite food, and the warmth of homemade cuisine.

For a long while, food had a distinct way of looking on Instagram. The photos were too crisp. The food was overly stylized. At times, recipes would look almost unattainable. But those days are long gone, and food creators like Marie Cassis are embracing a homely way of sharing recipes.

Instead of constructed sets and fancy lights, the food appears to exist in real life settings – such as messy dinner parties or quiet breakfasts. Marie Cassis’ images have a lived-in feel that welcomes us, and extends us a quick invite into her kitchen.

Living between Cairo and London, the Egyptian-Greek home cook explores numerous recipes and ingredients. At times, she shares evocations of culinary nostalgia from her childhood – from her grandmother’s vine leaves dish (with lots of lemons) to the fruit markets of Cairo.

Every day, Cassis writes a love letter to her meals with tenderness. But there’s a charm that lies beyond the aesthetics. Cassis’ images express the possibility that you too can do this at home. Be it cooking a Spaghetti Al Pomodoro or crafting a small plate of cheese and figs, she almost inspires her viewers to practice acts of self-love through food.

Simple, yet finely tuned to detail – one cannot deny the enchantment of Marie Cassis’ culinary sentiment.

١. What inspired you to start your page, and share your meals on Instagram?

I started my page whilst I was doing my postgraduate studies, which happened to coincide with the early Covid days. During this time of intensity, I found myself often resorting to cooking, which seemed to bring a certain peace of mind. I created my page to document the process. 

٢. Have you always loved to connect with people through cuisine? How important do you feel like connecting with people via food?

I grew up in a family that considered and continues to consider food to be a key medium of bonding and connecting in our household. Gathering around a table was a time when laughter, tears, smiles and frowns occurred. It was never forced. But it often seemed to be an exhilarating time when each person came with a unique presentation, and shared the essential and basic human need of eating. 

٣. Any cool interactions or stories that you got from people through your page?

I get messages from people around the world, which is deeply touching. I really value hearing from people what a dish I made evoked for them. I find it so precious to get such insights from people and get a sense of the crossovers between food and imagination for different individuals. 

٤. Do you have any favourite chefs that you look up to? If so, can you share them with us?

So many people inspire me in the culinary world – a lot more than I can name. They range from family members and friends to cooks and chefs. I do have a lot of admiration for Samin Nosrat and Julia Child.

© arôme cassis

٥. Can you tell us about your aesthetic choice for your page?

When I started my page, I did not intend to have a specific aesthetic. I believe that my style is ever-changing, depending on where I am in the world and what is available to me. I would say that my constants lie in keeping photos as unedited as possible and holding a space for imperfection. I also love to think about colours, shapes and textures.

٦. Do you have any favourite food memory from your childhood? We’d love to hear about it.

I have many fond food memories. One that I hold close to my heart would be rolling grape leaves in my grandmother’s kitchen with my mum, cousin and grandmother. Sometimes my aunts would join, too. There were always far too many grape leaves to stuff and roll. My grandmother would always look closely at the leaves and examine their quality – she would express disappointment in her deal with the grape leaves vendor if there were too many holes or if the leaves were too thick. My younger cousin and I would be made to feel like our rolling skills were exceptional, which was absolutely not the case at the time. We always had good laughs rolling grape leaves. 

٧. What would be your advice to someone who is new to cooking, and how they can add more love to their cooking ritual?

My advice would be to embrace mistakes and trust individuality. As much as there is a time and place to follow recipes precisely, I think it is essential to have a personal connection with the process. Trusting your own desires in what is to be eaten. There will most definitely always be mistakes. I prefer to see them as part of an intimate encounter, where so much could go wrong as it could go right! If things always turned out as expected, for better or worse, where would the thrill of cooking go?

٨. Do you have any cooking rituals that you’d like to share with us?

When I decide to cook a meal, I take some time to think about the ingredients I will be using. It is such a privilege to have access to all kinds of ingredients. There is so much potential that produce can hold, and it deserves to be respected and appreciated. By that, I don’t mean that one should thrive for complexity. I often think that the simplest meals can be the most gratifying ones.

٩. What’s your favourite thing about preparing a meal for your loved ones?

Holding my loved ones in mind whilst preparing a meal for them is so important to me. I also enjoy looking out for people’s facial expressions after the first bite. It doesn’t necessarily have to be with a positive expectation. I am just really curious about people’s responses to food. 

١٠. What has been the most memorable meal that someone cooked for you?

Our family’s Easter meal last year in Cairo was memorable for me. It just came together so beautifully and although the meal was laborious for the many family members involved, we were able to sit at a long table together and enjoy the chaos of it. The love that was poured into making the dishes (which included a very gently and slowly cooked lamb in the pit) was very clear. 

© arôme cassis

Rapid Fire

Recipe or a taste that feels like home?

Egyptian citrus. 

Favourite song to cook to?

I am currently listening a lot to the album ‘Imagina’ by Rita Payés and Elisabeth Roma. 

Go-to comfort meal?

Chicken soup and rice with lots of lemon juice. 

Favourite recipe to cook for friends?

I love playing with dough and enjoy including different forms of it in dinners – whether it takes the shape of fresh pasta, bread, tarts…etc.

Your favourite ingredient to use?

Olive oil. 

Best place for a cosy dinner?

I love a restaurant called Andrea in Giza, Egypt. 

Rand Al-Hadethi is an art, culture, and fashion writer who approaches all her creative endeavours with a penchant for storytelling. She explores the intersection of fashion, culture, and society and sheds light on talent and cultural movements across the Middle East and the world. Rand also publishes a bi-monthly themed substack newsletter called WebWeaver™. To reach Rand, email her at rand@khamsa5.com or follow her on social media @rundoozz.
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