Yemeni Couple Serves Up Traditional Arabic Cuisine in Marianna

Sami Almaswary in his restaurant

Marianna is an unlikely spot to find skewers of spiced kebabs and mezze of crispy falafel with dollops of roasted eggplant dip. Still, there, east of the Chipola River in the Panhandle’s countryside, you will find the Mediterranean staples. Mashawy Marianna is an Arabic fusion restaurant. Sami and Nadya Almaswary opened the restaurant exactly four years ago, a couple of days before the election  in November 2016.

Shortly after, the Trump administration began an immigration overhaul. They enforced a travel ban on several countries, including their native Yemen. However, Sami found that food bridged a gap in Jackson County, a conservative stronghold, as the majority of Florida’s Panhandle. This tempered the political tension and gave way to curiosity and conversation.

Before Falling in Love With Arabic Cuisine

Sami, who is a retired businessman, owned several franchises, including gas stations. It’s exactly how he wound up in the Big Bend 15 years ago when he even bought a gas station in Sneads after graduating from the University of Michigan. He has a business administration degree, and a few months later he bought a house for himself and his family to settle there.

However, opening a restaurant was not in his retirement plans. He said that his neighbors were pushing him into it. They have a saying, more like an Arabic proverb, about taking care of close people “up to the seventh neighbor.”

Arabic Cuisine

Taking Care of Neighbors

Sami and Nadya love to cook traditional dishes and give food to their neighbors. They love their Arabic cuisine, so they pop into the couple’s home kitchen, wafting with herbs and freshly ground herbs.

Tucked past Jackson County’s stretches of peanut and cotton fields, the building off Caverns Road has cycled through several iterations, from church to golf country club, to a bar and restaurant, before the Almaswarsi bought the space. They reserved platters of hummus swirled with sumac, saffron basmati rice and Yemeni zhug, fried chicken-and-vegetable croquettes called sambousek, and a bright red sauce of olive oil, peppers, and herbs. If tabouli and delicate lamb chops are too adventurous for people, there are always hamburgers on the Arabic cuisine menu, too.

They do it because they love people and hospitality. Sami says that they are a little tiny small town with only 9,000 people in the city, and this has made them pretty much a big family.

For the First Time, Dunkin Donuts Introduces a Spicy Donut

With spicy flavors trending throughout the fast-food industry as of late, Dunkin Donuts introduces its first-ever spicy donut! This spooky and delicious treat is both innovative and daring, and sure to grab the attention of spicy food lovers throughout the country. The new donut will be available until the end of December throughout all Dunkin restaurants in the US!

A donut with pink frosting and decoration, with a bite mark on it What’s in the Dunkin Donuts’ Spicy Treat

The new donut is made using a classic yeast dough. Once properly baked, the donut is covered with a sweet strawberry topping that is infused with cayenne and ghost pepper. Known as one of the spiciest peppers in the world, the ghost pepper’s Scoville score is 1,041,427 SHU. To put that into perspective, it’s 200 times spicier than a jalapeño pepper. Deliciously daring, this donut definitely grabs attention. Dunkin, along with many other fast-food restaurants, often add such interesting and unordinary items to their menus to intrigue and win over customers, as the fast-food business is highly competitive. Luckily for the consumer, this means finding interesting new items such as the spicy donut!

Spicy Hot Bhut Jolokia Ghost Peppers Spicy Is the New Trend

Luckily for all those who love spicy food, a piquant trend has been developing this year. Many fast-food franchises have been adding spicy items to their menus lately. This includes McDonald’s that started selling spicy chicken McNuggets recently, which happens to be the first new nugget flavor they’ve introduced since 1983! Whataburger also added a spicy chicken sandwich, and Del Taco started offering several new menu items featuring Cholula spicy sauce. With Halloween just around the corner, Dunkin Donuts’ rival, Krispy Kreme came out with Halloween donuts that feature some of the classic monsters like Frankenstein’s monster and Dracula. Those who show up in costume can get a free donut, which is certainly fun and worth it for a sweet treat!