Rima Kenaan serves up food and culture at “Flavours of Syria” in Digby


Published on May 2, 2017

Shekrallah, Rima and Beth Earle all team up to get things cooking.

©Sara Ericsson

DIGBY, NS – For those who didn't know, Syrian food is fresh, fragrant and fabulous.

Rima Kenaan led 'Flavours of Syria,' a Syrian cooking demonstration, May 2 at the Conway Workshop Community Kitchen, putting food in bellies and smiles on faces.

The event was hosted by Kitchen Facilitator Judy Green, local champion of slow food and healthy eating.

Rima Kenaan is a member of the Syrian refugee family that came to Digby just over one year ago and is famous in Digby for her savvy cooking and delicious desserts.

Green expected around 20 people to attend the event and was shocked when the final number reached 50. Extra chairs were found and room was made to accommodate the larger than expected crowd.

“It was amazing to see the community come out like that and support the kitchen,” said Green.

 

How it worked

Due to the large crowd, the event morphed into a cooking demonstration led by Rima, who was helped by kitchen attendants and volunteers from the crowd.

Rima walked everyone through the steps and explained the recipes as she cooked. Fresh ingredients and interesting spice combinations gave everyone much food for thought, resulting in many, many conversations amongst those present.

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The Flavours of Syria event featured Syrian chef and Digby resident Rima Kenaan, with help from her husband Shekrallah and their six children, and was hosted by Judy Green at the Conway Workshop’s community kitchen.

Photos by Sara Ericsson

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Chef Rima gets to work as the event gets underway, dicing tomatoes and other ingredients for the tabbouleh dish.

Photos by Sara Ericsson

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Rima rolls the shish kebabs onto spits to get the sausage shape, then removes the spit before they are cooked.

Photos by Sara Ericsson

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Shekrallah, Rima and Beth Earle all team up to get things cooking.

Photos by Sara Ericsson

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Kebabs are created by pressing the meat around a spit. The spit is then removed and the meat is cooked with onions. Tabbouleh and other fresh herbs are thrown on top of the kebabs when done as an extra garnish.

Photos by Sara Ericsson

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Tabbouleh is made with parsley, tomato, mint, bulgur and green onions, making for bright colours and flavours.

Photos by Sara Ericsson

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In addition to Tabbouleh, Baba Ghanouj and another green mixture were made at the supper. The secret ingredient? Fresh produce.

Photos by Sara Ericsson

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A full plate shown with each of the dishes. Full plates made for many full stomachs at the event.

Photos by Sara Ericsson

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Judy Green, who runs the kitchen, said she expected 20 people to show up. The total reached 50 people, which Green was “so happy and surprised” by.

Photos by Sara Ericsson

Some ingredients are harder to translate than others is something that was discovered at the event.

“We use pink in this dish,” said Rima. “What is pink in English?”

It was then put to the crowd, and one person guessed, “sumac, maybe?”

In the end, pink translated to cloves.

 

Tasting success

The food was cooked and served with much success – though many people had never tried Syrian food before, they were pleasantly surprised by the flavours it offers.

“These flavours are really amazing, especially the tahini,” said one person.

“This really wasn’t what I’d expected, but I like it,” said another.

It was suggested many times by those present that Rima should open her own restaurant. She was more than thrilled by how well her food was received.

“Many people don’t cook for themselves because they don’t have time, or because they eat fast food,” said Rima.

“I’m glad everyone enjoyed the food I cook and that I could show them how it’s done.”

While she doesn’t yet run a restaurant, Rima does sell her desserts at Ricardo’s Convenience Store in the Town of Digby.

 

Why these events matter

Green was also thrilled by the event’s success and looks forward to hosting many more events at the kitchen in the future.

“These events are great for showcasing the different cultures we have in Digby and also for bringing people together,” said Green.

“It allows people to meet their neighbours they may live only a few houses from but still haven’t met. It’s so great to see everyone coming together like this, promoting and accepting diversity.”

The $5 cost of each community supper is subsidized through initiatives such as this week’s silent auction, for which tickets can be purchased until Friday, May 5. $5 gets you 20 tickets to place on different items. The draw will happen Monday, May 8.

Green is passionate about the community kitchen and serves the community proudly, a fact that does not go unnoticed. Regular event attendee and Alabama native Mary Moran says Green's events have "created a great community of people to bond with."

The next event held at the Community Kitchen will be the Mother’s Day Mad Hatter Tea Party, held May 12.