Doris Hifawi offers her family's special blend of coffee to her guests in her Jaffa home
Doris Hifawi offers her family's special blend of coffee to her guests in her Jaffa home
Photo: Nir Itzhaki
Sarah Jessica Parker with Doris Hifawi in Jaffa in 2019

'Sarah Jessica Parker wrapped rice in vine leaves in my Jaffa kitchen'

The Sex in the City star opted to forgo a meeting with Tel Aviv mayor during her stay in Israel and spend time with Doris Hifawi in her home to hear stories of the local history and taste her family's special blend of freshly ground coffee

Ayat Abou Shmeiss |
Published: 10.16.21, 13:50
Doris Hifawi once was a regular house wife and a stay-at-home mother of three, living in Jaffa - the predominantly Arab quater of Tel Aviv.
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  • She was engaged to be married at 15, and when she turned 18, soon after she graduated from high school, she and her chosen partner tied the knot.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    Sarah Jessica Parker with Doris Hifawi in Jaffa in 2019
    Sarah Jessica Parker with Doris Hifawi in Jaffa in 2019
    Sarah Jessica Parker with Doris Hifawi in Jaffa in 2019
    (Photo: Courtesy)
    In 2008 her life took a turn when she and her husband began running the family grocery store called the Anton Café, known for its locally ground sesame paste - Tahini - and its special blend of freshly ground coffee.
    It was not long after that the Israeli film "Agami," which depicts the life of a young Arab resident of Jaffa, was released to international acclaim and precipitated a rush of tourists from all over the world to the quiet seaside quarter of Israel's largest city.
    Hifawi's shop became a "not to be missed" tourist attraction and a local tour guide suggested that the owner agree to host some of the visitors at her home to tell them about her excellent coffee and offer them some of her homemade delicacies.
    After some hesitation, Hifawi agreed and what turned out initially to be a challenging undertaking, began to flourish.
    It is not common for Arab families to open their homes to tourists and the venture was mocked by many of the neighbors because despite the hard work, the family did not appear to be earning a substantial income for their troubles.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    Doris Hifawi offers her family's special blend of coffee to her guests in her Jaffa home
    Doris Hifawi offers her family's special blend of coffee to her guests in her Jaffa home
    Doris Hifawi offers her family's special blend of coffee to her guests in her Jaffa home
    (Photo: Nir Itzhaki)
    But Hifawi's reputation grew and so did the stream of visitors to her home. Tour guides who heard about her reached out and urged their clients not to miss such an enjoyable and unique event. The business took off to everyone's content.
    Hundreds of foreign visitors have since enjoyed Hifawi's hospitality but one occasion in the summer of 2019 stands out above many others, when Sex in the City star Sarah Jessica Parker - who was visiting Israel at the time - asked if she can come as well.
    Hifawi did not believe the tour guide who asked if the famous actress could come for a visit. But the Parker insisted, opting to spend time at Hifawi's home instead of meeting Tel Aviv mayor Ron Huldai at the municipality.
    That is how the two women ended up standing side by side in Hifawi's kitchen to prepare a local delicacy of aromatic rice wrapped in grapevine leaves, as Hifawi told Parker about Jaffa's history and shared stories behind her family's special blend of coffee. The star later joined the entire family around the table for a meal.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    Doris Hifawi teaches former U.S. Secretary of Defense how to prepare local delicacies in her Jaffa home
    Doris Hifawi teaches former U.S. Secretary of Defense how to prepare local delicacies in her Jaffa home
    Doris Hifawi teaches former U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter how to prepare local delicacies in her Jaffa home
    (Photo: Courtesy)
    The high-profile visit made Hifawi a local celebrity in her own right. She was interviewed by media outlets and the requests to visit her home grew in number and included a long list of VIPs, including major Hollywood producers, ambassadors and politicians. Among them was former U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, who also joined her in her kitchen to cook and enjoy her homemade delicacies.
    But the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic left Hifawi's business in dire straits, and only recently she began to rebuild it, focusing more on domestic Israeli tourists who are thrilled at the opportunity to meet her and visit her home.
    Perhaps when Israel allows visitors from abroad, at least those who have been vaccinated, to visit the country, Hifawi will be able to offer her stories and her cooking to the international crowds once again.
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