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Ziggy Marley: How My Wife and I Blend Our Jamaican and Middle Eastern Cultures

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Amanda Marsalis

With four children at home, Ziggy Marley and his wife Orly are blending their traditions in the kitchen and beyond.

“Food really opened my mind about accepting and understanding different cultures,” Marley, 48, says in the new issue of PEOPLE. “It brings our family together.”

Indeed, the Grammy-winning reggae singer enjoys meals at home in Los Angeles with his brood—which includes his and Orly’s four kids, Judah, 11, Gideon, 9, Abraham, 5, and Isaiah, 7 months—as well as extended family members. “My wife is Middle Eastern—she’s from Israel; her parents are from Iran—so when we got married, the food got blended,” he says of Orly, 33. “I introduced her to my favorites, like fish, porridges and different Caribbean seasonings. And her family introduced me to the falafels and rice.”

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Marley’s diet today is primarily informed by the island fare he was raised on in Jamaica, as well as the Rastafari culture he grew up in with his father—reggae legend Bob Marley—which is more “vegetarian-based, less salty and more fresh.” The singer and celebrity foodie compiled recipes that reflect those traditions in his new Ziggy Marley and Family Cookbook.

“Sharing food brings the family together, and my kids get the importance of that,”says Marley, who is also father to Daniel, 27, Justice, 24, and Zuri, 21, from previous relationships.

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In addition to blending their roots through food, Marley says he and his wife are raising their kids with traditions from both their backgrounds.

“Within my culture, there’s a lot of spirituality, philosophies, ideas—love, humility, respecting each other,” says Marley, who grew up as the oldest son in a family of 11 kids. “From her side, it’s family: There’s a connectivity there, the bonds of family are very important on her side. It’s a good balance of philosophies, ideas from my side and practical living from her side with family.”