Saudi creative brings her late mother’s cooking to life

Waad Janbi’s animated short ‘Mom’s Spaghetti’ depicts a grieving teenage boy’s quest recreate a beloved dish his mother used to prepare for him. (Supplied)
1 / 2
Waad Janbi’s animated short ‘Mom’s Spaghetti’ depicts a grieving teenage boy’s quest recreate a beloved dish his mother used to prepare for him. (Supplied)
Saudi creative brings her late mother’s cooking to life
2 / 2
Waad Janbi’s animated short ‘Mom’s Spaghetti’ depicts a grieving teenage boy’s quest recreate a beloved dish his mother used to prepare for him. (Supplied)
Short Url
Updated 29 March 2024
Follow

Saudi creative brings her late mother’s cooking to life

Saudi creative brings her late mother’s cooking to life
  • Waad Janbi’s ‘Mom’s Spaghetti’ aired on MBC Academy, portrays the love language of food

DHAHRAN: In Waad Janbi’s new animated short film, “Mom’s Spaghetti,” which aired this week on MBC Academy, the Saudi creative serves the audience a universal story of overcoming grief after the loss of a loved one, and the importance of feeding your soul — and your stomach.

The animated short follows 14-year-old Amjad as he awkwardly — and delicately — navigates dealing with the loss of his mother by attempting to recreate a beloved dish she used to prepare for him.

The story starts on the first day of Ramadan and he is seen playing ball in front of his home. He interrupts the game when his grandmother gently pokes her head out from the window overlooking the street and tells him to take it easy since it is the first day of fasting in the holy month. He tells his friends he needs to step inside to help his grandmother and cheerfully goes in to support her.




Waad Janbi’s animated short ‘Mom’s Spaghetti’ depicts a grieving teenage boy’s quest recreate a beloved dish his mother used to prepare for him. (Supplied)

Inside, the mood is somber. His father and sister also live with them. They break their fast mostly in silence.

For the next several days, along with his sister and grandmother, he attempts to re-create the favorite spaghetti dish that his mother used to make. They fail. Until one day, Amjad finds a blue notebook with drawings on the cover. It is his mother’s recipe book tucked away in a drawer. They try again. And again. Until one day, it smells and looks the way his mother used to make. Tears fill his eyes as he, and his family, enjoy the dish that their beloved mother used to serve them.

Janbi, who is a filmmaker and writer raised in Makkah and educated in the US, used some of her family’s real story sprinkled into this fictional narrative.

“The real inspiration came from my younger brother, Hamza. When our mother died, he was very athletic so she would prepare vegetables for him — healthy things. Right before she died, she told him that she made him something that she saved in the oven for him. ‘I kept it for you,’ she said,” Janbi told Arab News.




Waad Janbi, Saudi creative

But then she died and the household was overcome with grief. During the funeral, the dish was forgotten. Eventually, Hamza went looking for it and realized that it was gone.

“It likely went bad and someone threw it out while they were cleaning. Hamza was really sad about it, sad how the last thing our mother made for him, he couldn’t taste. So, when I wrote the story, I had him in my mind. This was the last act of love that she made but he couldn’t eat that last dish. That last serving of love was untouched,” Janbi said.

The way mama showed love and what she was most proud of was food.

Waad Janbi, Saudi creative

“Mama was a phenomenal cook. She was famous for her macarona bechamel. Our relatives would flock over just to taste her food. But I guess many don’t make that normally during Ramadan so I switched it the more widely known spaghetti,” she said.

The title was inspired by an unlikely source: the US rapper Eminem, who was popular during Janbi’s youth. In his debut, and critically acclaimeded film, “8 mile,” he famously rapped a lyric where he says: “Mom’s spaghetti.” Janbi, who uses humor to cope with grief, decided to use it.




Waad Janbi’s animated short ‘Mom’s Spaghetti’ depicts a grieving teenage boy’s quest recreate a beloved dish his mother used to prepare for him. (Supplied)

“I was being playful with the title. Eminem wasn’t ashamed of his anger, he turned it into art. And, although I’m aware that he was problematic during different times, he was a poet and that line stuck with me and it would make me snicker to myself each time I heard someone mention ‘Mom’s spaghetti’ in my short film’s title,” she said.

This film is a love letter to all the things that inspired Janbi rolled into one.

In the Janbi household growing up, they would watch MBC on the screen while preparing the food and then switch to live footage of the Haram right before Maghreb.

Fast-forward to years later, Janbi enrolled in MBC Academy’s first online cohort dedicated to screenwriting. She then took a more advanced screenwriting course and did on-site training in Dubai. Through a group chat, mentors at MBC Academy encouraged former participants to write and pitch an episode as part of a series that would air during Ramadan. They were told that seven episodes would be selected.

Janbi felt the pull of her mother and was able to scramble together her story in the nick of time. Like her mother, she used a bit of this, a dash of that, and was able to produce a story that she shared with the committee. Her story was selected and was released as the second of the seven stories.

It was important for her to write it from the point of view of a Saudi teen boy, in order to subtly shift the conversation.

“In the story, the boy was trying to learn basic skills, to feed himself and his family. I grew up with very strict rules about gender roles; me as a girl, I’d have to help with the kitchen and my brother had to help feed those fasting with father. I began to understand the pressures my brother had and wanted to let Saudi boys know that they should be active in their own lives. Helping in the kitchen is good, helping your grandmother is good. And they should learn how to feed themselves!” she said.

While food is vital to survival, certain dishes can truly make you feel alive. With curated ingredients and specific spices and herbs mixed just right, that culinary journey can turn that spoon or fork into a sort of time machine. It can bring you back to simpler times.

Janbi’s older sisters still have some of the handwritten recipes that their mother scribbled in loose notebook papers, each fragmented page tells a story of a time long gone but also serves as a treasure map to revive that magic.

“The way mama showed love and what she was most proud of was food. She would never hug us or kiss us or say ‘I love you,’ but she would lovingly prepare the dish you loved and that was her love language,” Janbi said.

Janbi was overwhelmed by the positive reception after her episode aired. Her friends flooded her inbox and tagged her on social media, praising the story that resonated deeply with viewers of all backgrounds. The storytelling was layered and complex but told in a clear way.

“Usually the artist is never satisfied with the final draft but I was happy with the way that the MBC Academy team was able to bring it to life, even though they modified some things and left things out that I was slightly upset about, like in my vision, the mother had different hair … but I also understood their decision,” she said.

Janbi especially wanted to thank MBC Academy’s Munira Altheeb, assistant project manager at MBC Academy Middle East, for her support.

But, most importantly, her family understood what she was trying to achieve. She had told her siblings about the story before it came out and when it was ready, they all watched it. Her brother, the one that inspired the story, was excited. Her older sisters cried. Her youngest sibling, a sister, was slightly upset that the story didn’t seem to include her.

“I told my little sister, ‘Don’t worry, the next film I write will feature a story from your point-of-view,’” Janbi said.

To this day, Janbi’s family have not yet perfected their mother’s green beans with shrimps dish, her favorite. But they will keep on trying.

And Janbi will keep on typing.

The short animated film, which runs just under 10 minutes, can be viewed on MBC Academy’s YouTube channel.

 


KSrelief runs volunteer medical projects in Sudan, Yemen

KSrelief runs volunteer medical projects in Sudan, Yemen
Updated 18 July 2024
Follow

KSrelief runs volunteer medical projects in Sudan, Yemen

KSrelief runs volunteer medical projects in Sudan, Yemen

RIYADH: The Kingdom’s aid agency KSrelief continues to provide healthcare for vulnerable people in Sudan and Yemen, the Saudi Press Agency reported late Wednesday evening.

The project in Port Sudan for urology surgery, from July 13 to 20, involves 11 volunteers with training in various specialties.

The team members have already completed six surgeries.

A similar project is currently being implemented for orthopedic surgery in the Seiyun district of Yemen’s Hadhramaut governorate, with seven operations already completed.


Saudi Arabia calls for UN Security Council resolution to compel Israel to end war, ‘starvation’ of Gazans

Saudi Arabia calls for UN Security Council resolution to compel Israel to end war, ‘starvation’ of Gazans
Updated 18 July 2024
Follow

Saudi Arabia calls for UN Security Council resolution to compel Israel to end war, ‘starvation’ of Gazans

Saudi Arabia calls for UN Security Council resolution to compel Israel to end war, ‘starvation’ of Gazans
  • Tel Aviv must end its ‘aggression’ and allow for urgent delivery of humanitarian aid to besieged Gaza
  • UN failure to stop Israel driven by ‘short-sighted, selfish political interests,’ says Saudi envoy Abdulaziz Alwasil

NEW YORK: Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative to the UN, Abdulaziz Alwasil, on Wednesday called on the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution that would compel Israel to end its war on Gaza.

Alwasil said Tel Aviv must comply with the Security Council’s own resolutions, which call for an immediate ceasefire and the delivery of aid into Gaza.

He said Israel, as the occupying power, must be forced to respect international law. This includes implementing the International Court of Justice’s provisional measures to end the genocide being perpetrated on the Palestinian people.

Alwasil said the UN Security Council, since the beginning of the assault on Gaza 10 months ago, has been holding “meeting after meeting to no avail.”

Meanwhile, the world continues to witness the Israeli “war machine deliberately targeting civilians and imposing the harshest forms of collective punishment by killing, displacing, starving and imposing a blockade on civilians.”

Alwasil added: “All of these blatant violations are happening before the eyes of the world and the international community continues to turn a blind eye.

“And this inaction pushed the occupation power, which is hiding behind a solid wall, to take advantage of this weakness and international silence to impose its inhumane, violent practices unabated.”

The Saudi Arabia envoy was speaking at a signature UN Security Council meeting called by Russia, which is holding the rotating presidency of the body for the month of July. It was chaired by Moscow’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Alwasil lamented the failure of the Security Council to stop the war, which he blamed on members of the body being bound by “short-sighted, selfish political interests that have impeded its ability to take the necessary firm actions to stop the Israeli aggression.”

“The failure by the international community and the Security Council to protect the innocent civilians has led so far to the killing of 38,000 people and the injury and maiming of tens of thousands, most of whom are women and children,” said Alwasil.

He added: “How can such a forced displacement that is recurrent in Gaza be justified? How can we stay silent in the face of this systematic starvation and deliberative blockade? How can the international community stand idly while a major humanitarian catastrophe is taking place before our eyes?”

Alwasil vowed that his country would continue to support the Palestinian right to self-determination and the establishment of a state on the lines of 1967 with East Jerusalem as the capital.

This would “ensure comprehensive justice (and) peace in line with the Arab Peace Initiative and the relevant resolutions of international legitimacy.”


Saudi crown prince, Russia’s Putin discuss relations 

Saudi crown prince, Russia’s Putin discuss relations 
Updated 18 July 2024
Follow

Saudi crown prince, Russia’s Putin discuss relations 

Saudi crown prince, Russia’s Putin discuss relations 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has made a call to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Saudi Press Agency said early Thursday.

The pair discussed ways of enhancing bilateral relations in all fields.

The call also reviewed issues of mutual interest.


Saudi crown prince, Iraqi PM discuss relations 

Saudi crown prince, Iraqi PM discuss relations 
Updated 18 July 2024
Follow

Saudi crown prince, Iraqi PM discuss relations 

Saudi crown prince, Iraqi PM discuss relations 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman made a call on Wednesday to Iraq’s Prime Minister Mohammed Al-Sudani, the Saudi Press Agency said.

The pair discussed ways of enhancing bilateral relations in all fields.

The call also reviewed issues of mutual interest.


Saudi Arabia condemns Israeli strikes on UN school in Gaza

Saudi Arabia condemns Israeli strikes on UN school in Gaza
Updated 17 July 2024
Follow

Saudi Arabia condemns Israeli strikes on UN school in Gaza

Saudi Arabia condemns Israeli strikes on UN school in Gaza

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has condemned Israel’s targeting the UNRWA-run Al-Razi School in Nuseirat camp in Gaza, and Al-Attar area in Khan Yunis, killing dozens and injuring hundreds, the Kingdom’s foreign ministry said.

The statement described the attacks as “a series of repeated violations by the Israeli war machine against defenseless civilians.”

Israeli airstrikes killed more than 60 Palestinians in southern and central Gaza overnight and into Tuesday, including one that struck an Israeli-declared “safe zone” crowded with thousands of displaced people.

Tuesday’s deadliest strike hit a main street lined with market stalls outside the southern city of Khan Younis in Muwasi, at the heart of the zone that is packed with tent camps. Officials at Khan Younis’ Nasser Hospital said 17 people were killed.

Saudi Arabia renewed its categorical rejection of the continuation of Israeli genocidal crimes, and demanded an immediate ceasefire and ensuring the protection of civilians, relief facilities and their workers.

“The Kingdom holds the Israeli occupation forces fully responsible for their continued violation of all international and humanitarian norms and laws,” the statement read.

Saudi Arabia also reiterated the legal, humanitarian and moral responsibility placed on the international community to put an end to these ongoing violations of international law and international legitimacy resolutions by the Israeli forces.

The Kingdom said the failure to do so “not only reflects the inability and weakness of the international community institutions, but also portends consequences that go beyond this crisis and affect the foundations of international legitimacy and credibility, and the extent of our ability to maintain regional and international security and stability in the future.”

-With AP