Our party featured crazy amounts of Syrian food prepared by our sponsored family, with help from sponsor group members. Cooking together, we learned new recipes and discovered new spices and presentation ideas (nuts on everything! an army of romaine spears guarding the tabbouleh!).
Newcomer musicians Esmeel Aboufakher and Rahaf Alakbani (profiled here) gave us traditional Syrian music. Their first song told the story of a man far from home who has a conversation with a priest from the Old Country about missing that place. It was beautiful, and heartbreaking, and I recorded the whole thing on my phone, but something's wrong with my phone (I discovered) and so we just have this 30-second clip:
From a fundraising perspective, the event did well, getting us most of the way towards being able to support the two new families coming in (soon, we hope). We also have a few new group members who can share the tasks of helping out the new families.
From a cultural perspective, it was great to hear and taste what Syrian newcomers are bringing to the country. We learned new things this year. For the party, I made baklava for the first time, following Maureen Abood's radical path of not putting butter between every single layer of phyllo dough (that's 4 hours saved, right there). Came out looking good, if I do say so myself.
The Syrian pronounciation is "baklawa"
The Syrian food thing has been a positive development in my house, where I had fallen into a rut involving a very limited run of pasta and taco meals. I bought this cookbook, written by a Canadian woman and her son, originally from Aleppo but now living in Montreal. Some amazing flavour combinations there, unlike any other Middle Eastern cuisine I have tasted.
We hope to have another party a year from now, to celebrate with the new families coming in, and our first sponsored family, well-established in Canada. Until then, stay warm!