Nfld. & Labrador

Gander tasting the world — and raising money to feed hungry kids

The Rotary Club's International Food and Tasting Fundraiser brings international cuisines to Newfoundland plates.

Rotary Club's International Food and Tasting Fundraiser brings international cuisines to Newfoundland plates

Reem Saliba Al Baquen is helping organize the Gander Rotary Club's International Food and Tasting Fundraiser, which will feature foods from places like Jordan, India, Jamaica and Poland. (Melissa Tobin/CBC)

Reem Saliba Al Baquen doesn't think of herself as much of a chef, but she hopes that by sharing her favourite foods, she'll teach others about her culture. 

Born in Jordan, Al Baquen is one the organizers of the Gander Rotary Club's International Food and Tasting Fundraiser event. 

Reem Saliba Al Baquen is one of the organizers of the Gander Rotary Club's International Food and Tasting Fundraiser. She gives CBC's Melissa Tobin a taste of Jordan before the event. 5:19

"It's nice to see different cultures together. And that's why we're doing the food event, to have people learn about our different food and culture," she said. "And at the same time we're doing it for a good cause."

Al Baquen makes a great cup of Arabic coffee, served with Jordanian biscuits and fresh fruit. (Melissa Tobin/CBC)

Al Baquen will be cooking a fusion of Middle Eastern dishes. With the help of other volunteers, there will be cuisines from more than 15 different cultures represented in Gander — like Indian, Jamaican, Polish and Syrian — taking part in the event.

The money raised will support a lunch program for Gander's four schools. 

The lunch program was started in November of last year by the Salvation Army after they learned some kids were missing school because they had no food at lunchtime.

When word got out about the program, donations to the Salvation Army's food bank from business and other community members began to happen, and the Gander Rotary Club got involved.

Kibbeh mousel is an Iranian dish, made from cracked wheat and meat, stuffed with beef, onions and spices. The Jordanian rice vermicelli is made with toasted almonds and raisins. (David Newell/CBC)

There are 150 tickets for the tasting. Al Baquen hopes it's something they can continue to do annually.

She moved to Newfoundland almost eight years ago with her Armenian husband. She says she never started to cook until she moved to Canada and missed the taste of home. It's often hard to find the ingredients to the foods she loves, she said.

Manaeesh zataar is made with a flatbread, coated in olive oil and zataar - a spice blend including thyme, oregano, marjoram, and sumac. (David Newll/CBC)

"Some stuff I find at Co-op or Dominion. But other stuff … certain spices, I have to buy it from Toronto or Jordan when I go there."

Things like rice vermicelli, the spice-blend zaatar and Arabic coffee.

But she leaves her favourites dishes for her visits home. 

"There's some Arabic food that's Jordanian — you'd be preparing it for two days, especially the vine leaves and mansaf. But the taste is worth it."

This Arabic salad is made with cucumber, tomatoes, chick peas, wish a dash of spices and lemon juice. (David Newell/CBC)

And healthier than some of the foods she's used to here. 

"We don't use lots of fats. And it's usually based on vegetables."

The Gander Rotary Club's International Food and Tasting Fundraiser is Saturday from 3 to 6 p.m. 

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.