Free Library Partnership: Culinary Literacy A Taste of Syria Workshops


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The Friends, Peace, and Sanctuary project was lucky to collaborate with the Free Library of Philadelphia Culinary Literacy Center to organize a series of 3 workshops called a Taste of Syria. The partnership supported a fourth cooking workshop during the Peace Open House and Reception at the Parkway Central Free Library in Summer 2019.


Osama Herkal: Molokheya & Fattoush

September 17, 2018, Parkway Central Free Library Kitchen

Osama taught a class on how to make Syrian molokheya, fattoush, and rice with sha3reya (vermicelli) at the Free Library of Philadelphia Culinary Literacy Center. Since coming to the US, he has substituted tortilla in the place of pita bread to make the “croutons” for the fattoush. Without doubt it was delicious and there was more than plenty of food to go around for each person to take a plate to go too! Each person got to take home a beautiful recipe page designed by Artistic Director, Suzanne Seesman. Osama was reunited with a piece of home when he was presented with a fresh molokheya plant from Owen Taylor of True Love Seeds. Osama gave the plant a huge bear hug. These seeds originated in Syria, making their way through Egypt and eventually to the US - a similar path that Osama and his family took to get here.

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Asmaa Diab: Kibbe & Tabbouleh

October 27, 2018, Parkway Central Free Library Kitchen

Asmaa Diab led this hands on workshop at Parkway Central Library’s Culinary Center teaching how to make kibbe and tabouleh. She was accompanied by her husband Hassan and two other project collaborators Amaal and Fadia. One participant said kibbe reminded her of a type of food she grew up with in Germany and another in Romania. Asmaa brought to life her stories of making food with relatives and friends throughout this workshop. A truly communal environment was created as everyone rolled the kibbe in their hands. Asmaa continues to cater and offer cooking workshops.

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Abir Al-Arnab: Tiramisu & Kudrit Kader

November 10, 2018, Parkway Central Free Library Kitchen

Abir Al-arnab led a cooking workshop on how to make Kidrut Kadr and an easy interactive version of Tiramisu. She shared the story of its importance in her life and so much more as she led the audience through the steps of baking. This opened the floor to sharing more knowledge about how she is able recreate her favorite dishes in Philadelphia and how she is able to incorporate flavors from home - highlighting food markets like Makkah Market (W. Philly) and Jana Market (northeast), Al-Amana and Liberty Choice (Kensington). Participants asked about restaurants/cafes from Arab diaspora like Renata’s Kitchen, Manakeesh Restaurant and Bakery, Hadramout, Suraya, Babyloon Cafe, Saad’s, and so much more.

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Cooking from Southwest Asia with Samah Al-Kassab

July 13, 2019, Parkway Central Free Library Kitchen

Samah Al-Kassab led a workshop teaching how to make mishabak and baba ganouj. Mishabak is a fried dough that resembles funnel cake. This workshop was conducted as part of open house and reception of the Peace exhibition at the Free Library. Teaching how to make mishabak and baba ganouj was interwoven with stories of Syria and the varied connotations of the famous eggplant dish.

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