LOCAL FLAVA’ | SOUP FOR SYRIA
PHOTO CREDIT BARBARA MASSAAD
“SOUP FOR SYRIA” | A book dedicated to help Syrian refugees Barbara Abdeni Massaad, a serious cook since the age of 15, has decided to publish and sell a cookbook aimed at helping the Syrian refugees. After the success of three books, she still lacks that subtle sense of fulfilment in her life. Every Tuesday, at the farmers market in Hamra, Beirut (Lebanon) - where she also runs the Slow Food Foundation (which aims to promote wholesome and traditional food) - Barbara sells her cookbooks to raise money and collects clothing donations to later distribute to the refugees. Her mission is to raise money to build a temporary pop-up kitchen in the Bekaa town of Zahle, where a lot of Syrian Refugees currently reside. The book is called “Soup For Syria” and will contain recipes for soups that consist of local ingredients that can be made by the Syrian families, themselves. Are you currently catering regularly to the needs of the Syrian refugees residing in Zahle? If yes, what are your activities? The word catering is a big word… I wish that I could do so much more. They are living in such poor conditions that my heart goes out to them, especially when I see so many children. Luckily, UNICEF and BEYOND and other associations are helping with matters such as schooling for children, basic needs, hygiene issues, etc… But it’s not
enough. The weather in the Bekaa does not help either. Luckily, we have had a mild winter except for the harsh week in December. I was freezing in my apartment in Beirut and could not sleep because I was thinking of all those children refugees. This is where I decided to do something about it in my own way. What ignited the idea of “Soup For Syria”? And why a cookbook for soup recipes? I always explain to the refugees that if I was a barber I would give them free haircuts but the fact that I am a food writer and photographer, I will use my talent to portray their pain, to photograph them and to write a cookbook which all publisher’s proceeds will go to them to help build a communal kitchen so they can feed their children healthy meals. Why soup you may ask? I have a friend whose name is Cristina Ghafari who thinks like me and called me one day to announce that she wanted to do soups to feed the refugees. Initially, I wanted to do a recipe book with Syrian recipes but found that it would be impossible to cook and work with what is available in the camps. Cristina started bringing her soup every week at the Slow Food Earth market to feed the refugees down there. This is where I got the calling for a Soup Cookbook! It made sense. We both go to the Bekaa every week and feed the children soup.