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

January 11, 2021

For Aya Wadi, a Syrian refugee who has settled in Thunder Bay, Ont., cooking and sharing food is a way to remember the family she had to leave behind.

“All of us broke apart. My aunts are in Egypt, my uncles are in Turkey now — we are here in Canada,” said Wadi, 24, who fled Syria with her family in 2017.

“And unfortunately, my grandmother passed away last summer.”

Wadi has fond memories of helping her grandmother make her recipe for ma’amoul — date-filled cookies — with the help of her own mother and aunts. They would share the sweet treats after they had fasted for Ramadan, and judge who made them the best.

She’s now sharing those memories and the recipe for ma’amoul with Canadians, in a cookbook released last month by the UN Refugee Agency in Canada. The cookbook, Tastes from Home: Recipes from the Refugee Community, features recipes from all over the world, contributed by refugees who have made Canada their home.

Wadi says sharing these recipes with people in her new home is a way of appreciating and honouring the times she spent cooking with family.

“Especially my grandma, for this great legacy that she left behind, her recipes, that she was able to share with my Mom, and my Mom now is sharing it with me,” she told The Current’s Matt Galloway.

The book is available for free online, with each download prompting a third-party donation to support refugees and their families.