Food serves as a bridge to cultures

 dinner party

Food has served as a bridge between cultures dating back to ancient times. Emissaries carrying gifts always brought some type of food from their homeland like fruits, vegetables or baked goods that were novel to the country they were visiting. The gifts served more than one purpose: beyond a mere gesture of goodwill, the foods provided insight into the other culture, reinforcing the idea that people are much more alike than they are different.

A group in New Jersey is counting on this theory in a new cooking club they have formed recently. Known as Syria Supper Club, it brings together Muslim refugees from Syria and Iraq with groups of mostly Jewish New Jerseyans. The dinners are part fundraiser for new immigrants and part cultural exchange, allowing the newcomers to meet people in an inviting atmosphere. In these frequently stressful times it is encouraging to learn of these peaceful and productive cultural exchanges. 

This supper club goes hand-in-hand with several cookbooks that we’ve featured on EYB in the last few months. One of these is the   #CookforSyria Recipe Book, edited by Serena Guen. The profits from that cookbook are used to benefit UNICEF’s Children of Syria Fund. In 2015, Soup for Syria: Recipes to Celebrate Our Shared Humanity by Barbara Abdeni Massaad featured a similar goal – to help those in need using food as a medium. 

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  • Jenny  on  January 28, 2017

    I love these projects – I finally got notice my copy of Cook for Syria was shipped – I ordered it a month or two ago. More on the book can be found here.

  • sir_ken_g  on  January 29, 2017

    I have heard of something similar being done at schools. Parents bring in a treat that is characteristic of their culture. Kids love it and gain more respect for thier school mates.

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