Refugees in Canada share recipes and tastes of home in new digital cookbook

Food connects us: UN representative

Rema Jamous Imseis, representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Canada, said the book is a way for refugees to share their culture and experiences through a theme that everyone understands — food.

“Whether or not you understand refugees or the conflicts from which they come, everybody gets food. Everybody enjoys food,” she told The Current.

“This is a way that we can have a conversation about that.”

Rema Jamous Imseis, Canadian representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, says 2020 was a difficult year for refugees. (James Park/UNHCR)

Wadi and her mother also opened a restaurant, Royal Aleppo Food, in Thunder Bay in 2020, which has done well despite the pandemic.

“They were so excited to take the food,” she said, which was “a big motivation for us to to work harder and just share more food with the community.”

For restaurateur Yasmen De Leon, food is something that overcomes our different languages and cultures to unite us.

Her recipe for the cookbook is for tamales made from masa dough, stuffed with chicken, and steamed in corn husks.

“All people in every corner of the world, a long time ago, had some dish or some type of dough in a leaf, that was steeped,” said De Leon, who runs the restaurant Comal y Canela in Toronto.

“I think it’s sort of like a primordial dish that symbolises that we are all one.”

Yasmen De Leon contributed a recipe for tamales to the cookbook. (Submitted by UNHCR)

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