Table Talk with Laila and Nadia

Table Talk with Laila and Nadia

Speaking from Paris and Cairo respectively, we took this week to catch up with Gohar World founders sisters Laila and Nadia about everyday rituals, favorite fruits, and the hospitality that you can bring with you anywhere in the world. The thoughtfulness of their replies to the simplest questions — a favorite fruit can’t be limited to one answer — tells you a little more about how many considerations have gone into setting the table and building the Gohar World. Join us on the line to hear a bit more about what’s on their minds and on their tables this week.


What did you have for breakfast this morning? 

L: I never really have breakfast, except for a macchiato. 

N: I usually don’t either. Well, I guess I had tea, with milk and honey.



What is your favorite thing to wear at the moment — in the kitchen, or in the studio?

N: I’m moving around so much right now that I’m usually wearing something comfortable. Big men’s shirts too, and a skirt.

L: I generally wear a lot of big men’s shirts — in and out of the kitchen the same. We are making a Host Smock with Gohar World that is a hybrid between an artist’s smock and a men’s shirt. It will be available over the holidays.



Does your approach to food, or to hosting, adapt to where you are in the world? Do different cities influence how you want to gather around a meal?

L: Generally speaking, the philosophy remains the same. Of course the setting makes a difference — what time of year it is, what’s available at the market — but my approach remains considered. Loose but considered. I am really opposed to the notion that you don’t need to make much of an effort when entertaining! I think this used to be a bit of a trend and with Covid, people started making an effort again thank goodness. There is nothing wrong with taking your time to make nice meals. For me, at least, that’s my way of showing people that I care. 

N: I’m still pretty new to New York — you know when you’re still in the stage of figuring out your eating patterns, and food identity in a place? That’s me right now. But the great thing about working with my sister is that we usually have great studio lunches [laughs]. So I’m in a phase where lunch is more of a moment for me than other meals. And here [in Cairo], most of my meals are in a domestic space. I had a snack on the street the other day because I was busy, but most meals while I’ve been here have been in a family member’s home, which is particular to being in Cairo for me — we really aren’t eating out a lot. 



What is your favorite tool?

L: The microplane. It does exactly what it needs to do, perfectly. Ideally the stainless steel handle. 

N: This is very “back to school” of me, but I have this little pouch filled with different tools I might need in the studio. A tiny stapler, or pens. More of a container for tools than a tool itself, but it’s got everything I need.

What was the last great meal you had?

L: This Sunday, my boyfriend and I had people for dinner. I made a quail [EDITOR'S NOTE: these quail had come to a gallery opening Friday evening], and he made a potato dish to go with them.

N: My grandmother usually makes a pigeon stuffed with rice and mint when I arrive in Egypt. It’s a really special tradition, and something I always look forward to — she is renovating her home right now, so her sister made it this time when I got to town.



What is your favorite fruit?

N: My grandmother just asked me this the other day! I love figs, and I love cherries. And I love a good apple, but I feel like that’s much harder to find. 

L: That’s a very hard question. Okay, I'm going to answer this in a couple of different ways. My favorite fruit when I'm thirsty is watermelon. My favorite fruit when I’m hungry is an apple. And my favorite fruit when I’m in Egypt is a custard apple.



Custard apple?

L: It’s also called a cherimoya. It’s green and really has nothing to do with an apple — forget about that part [laughs]. It has tough bumpy skin on the outside, and is very soft on the inside when it’s ripe. You just kind of squeeze it open to get to a soft milky flesh with little black seeds. 

If you had to choose between garlic and lemon — one has to go, for the rest of your life — which would you keep?

N: Lemon with a Lemon Squeezer, of course. 

L: I would keep lemon. Because you can use both the skin and the juice. And it has so much versatility, lemon is both a flavor and an acid, whereas garlic is just one flavor. 

But I would pick salt over either of them any day.