Iowa Writes

Eggplant Salad

     I am originally from Sudan. I arrived here in August of 1999. Nothing is extraordinary about my immigration to the US and to Iowa City; just like many immigrants from the Middle East, my family and I were looking for peace, human rights, better economic opportunities, and better life chances for our kids.
     When I came to the US, my family came to Texas, but we had friends and family in Iowa City. They told us it was a safe city, very good for families, good education, so that sounded attractive to us. So we moved to Iowa City. We became US citizens. We love it. It is a great place. My husband and I both received master's degrees from the university, and now both of my kids are going to be students at the University of Iowa in the fall. My son is going to study chemistry and my daughter is doing political science and international studies so she can study law.
     We moved from Sudan because of a lack of human rights and women's rights. First, we moved from Sudan to the United Arab Emirates, where I had my kids. No politics, no human rights, no women's rights. That's why I enjoy being here. I am a human being here. Being away from family, that is the hard part. We have to pay a lot to make a balance, so our children can know about their culture, their religion, and know their family members. But our children value democracy, freedom, and human rights; they live those values.
     The Sudanese community is in Iowa City is growing rapidly, which is nice. Our children have friends who share an immigrant culture. When my family arrived here, the Sudanese community was maybe fifty families, but now it is maybe 200 families. Because I work at our community's Neighborhood Center, I often see new faces. Last week, I saw three new families. It is growing. They are all attracted to better education.

1 eggplant
2 medium tomatoes, finely diced
½ each of green onion and green, yellow and red peppers, finely diced
1 carrot, shredded
1 tsp minced garlic
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
Vegetable oil for frying

• Cut the eggplant into one-inch cubes; fry in vegetable oil until golden.
• Combine eggplant, raw vegetables, and remaining ingredients in a large bowl.
• Toss and serve.

About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting


Fatma's story and recipe were included in Food Roots, a cookbook published in 2010 by Local Foods Connection (LFC) in collaboration with an Art and Ecology class at the University of Iowa. Clients and farmers interviewed for this book come from Illinois, Iowa, California, Mexico, Guatemala, Republic of the Sudan, The Togolese Republic, El Salvador, and Thailand.

Local Foods Connection ( enrolls low-income families and the agencies that serve them in CSA programs. CSAs provide a season's worth of fresh produce to consumers while paying local earth-friendly farmers fair prices for the food they grow, raise, and produce. Clients have the opportunity to visit a farm, as well as to learn healthy cooking methods. These opportunities are part of LFC's larger educational program, which covers nutrition, cooking, and environmental issues.

This page was first displayed
on June 20, 2011

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