In Gaza, where strife and violence are common, home cooking can create a feeling of normalcy, even as the outside world explodes to pieces. 'The Gaza Kitchen' by Laila El-Haddad and Maggie Schmitt captures this tenuous balance between pleasure, life, death and the hearth, but it's not your typical cookbook. Yes, it contains 120 recipes for vegetable stews, seafood dishes, meats and rice. Yes, the book is laden with mouth-watering, full-color photos of luscious herby, peppery and lemony dishes created by talented Gazan home cooks. But it also allots as much page space to tales about cooking, farming and food economy from Gazan people, as well as the "daily drama of surviving and creating spaces for pleasure in an embattled place." Laila El-Haddad appears for a book talk and recipe tasting on Thursday, Oct. 31, at the Epicurean Connection. 122 W. Napa St., Sonoma. 7pm. 707.935.7960.
On Nov. 2, Sebastopol officially celebrates the opening of the Barlow, —the sleek food, retail and cultural center that's become a destination spot for townies and tourists alike. The Barlow Street Fair will feature live music from Sol Horizon, the Louies and the Blane Lyon (of Zap Mama) Band. Food and libations will be available courtesy of local vendors and artisans. Check out the place Sunset magazine dubbed the "artisan amusement park" when the street fair kicks off on Saturday, Nov. 2, at the Barlow. Highway 12 and Morris Street, Sebastopol. 4–9pm. Free. 707.824.5600.