Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Expanding Local Borders With Food

Field Notes column for Wednesday, May 18, 2016, by Sara Jewell.

Alia Kamareddine prepares the marinade for chicken that will become kebabs.

The Oxford Resettlement Project committee, working to bring a Syrian refugee family to town in less than a year, is holding its first major fundraising event next week.
The Lebanese Dinner on Wednesday, May 25 seeks to bring old timers and newcomers together over a meal to enjoy delicious food and interesting conversation.
Councillor Dawn Thompson, who first floated the idea of resettling a Syrian refugee family in Oxford, hopes the dinner will dispel the misconceptions some people hold about Middle Eastern people and their food.
“This is just another event in the community to bring us together and to help bring another family to our community,” Dawn said. “We have heard that we are ninth on the list to receive a family, in roughly eight months.”

The idea for a Lebanese dinner came from Alia Kamareddine, a local businesswoman who came to Canada as a refugee twenty-five years ago during Lebanon’s civil war.
She was inspired by a fundraising event in Wallace.
“My kids went to the dinner in Wallace and they served Syrian food which is like Lebanese food,” she told me. “I thought we could do a dinner in Oxford because I like to help people if I can, and the Syrians are desperate.”

Alia and I are friends, and as someone born and raised in Ontario, I can attest to the fact that Alia is as Maritime as the next Maritimer when it comes to food.
I show up at her house for coffee and leave stuffed. She can’t help but serve food, not only because she loves to cook but also because hospitality is very important to her (sound familiar, Nova Scotians?). I love her homemade yogurt because it isn’t sour. 
For the May 25 meal the Lions Den in Oxford, Alia is serving chicken kebabs, stuffed grape leaves, rice, hummus (chick pea dip), and tabbouleh (parsley, tomato and onion salad), and offering for dessert baklava and mamoul (shortbread pastries filled with dates and nuts).
The most common flavourings used in Lebanese food are mint, pepper, garlic, olive oil and lemon.
For those of you who think Lebanese food is “foreign” or “weird”, think of how much you enjoy egg rolls, chicken balls and chow mein. Think of stuffed grape leaves as a cabbage roll, although Alia is offering a vegetarian version with chickpeas.
Only 100 tickets are being sold for this fundraising dinner; they are $20 each and available at the Scotiabank in Oxford, which is matching the ticket sales. 

Syrian families who have already arrived in Cumberland County are invited to attend the dinner in Oxford. 

Although the meal is being offered as take out, why not eat in since the Lions Den will be decorated in the colours of Lebanon and Syria, and Lebanese music will be playing in the background? You can treat yourself to a trip to another country without having to leave Oxford.
And when you are pleasantly surprised by how much you enjoy the food, you can thank Alia in her native tongue, Arabic, by saying shukraan, “shook-ron”.

1 comment:

  1. With Alia is preparing the food you are guaranteed a delicious meal. I worked for her years ago. I loved the food she would bring in to share with me. You will never have better baklava. Best wishes for a sold out event.