Serving up a frosty taste of Syria in Bedford
'I would like to show the Nova Scotia community something good because they give us a lot of love'
Opening a Syrian ice cream shop in Bedford, N.S., has been Samer Aljokhadar's dream since arriving to Canada as a refugee four years ago.
This week, he made that dream a reality.
After running his own ice cream shop in Syria, Aljokhadar said he saw the lack of Syrian ice cream in Nova Scotia as an opportunity.
"It's my job and I love it very much," he said Saturday. "I would like to show the Nova Scotia community something good because they give us a lot of love, a lot of kind. They help us a lot."
Aljokhadar and his family had to flee Homs, their home city in Syria, after it became too dangerous for them to live there.
"Life would have been very hard to continue. We went to Jordan, with my family and my sister's family. We lost everything. Our home, the shop, and we went as refugees to Jordan."
Since arriving in Halifax, Aljokhadar won a $1,000 grant at workshop for Syrian newcomers who had hopes of opening their own business.
The grant covered ingredients and an ice cream machine, but there was still a tool necessary for making Syrian ice cream that was hard to find.
The missing pestle
Aljokhadar said he tried everywhere.
"I tried to explain to a carpenter, and people who work with wood. They didn't understand me."
Eventually, Aljokhadar discovered that the traditional wooden pestle wouldn't pass food safety standards in Canada.
After realizing he wasn't going to find a plastic pestle locally, he turned to the internet and found a 5.4-kilogram plastic pestle. He was on his way to making traditional Syrian ice cream.
Booza Emessa is now in its first week of its soft launch. But the shop is not serving typical soft serve.
Syrian ice cream is thicker than normal Canadian fare. Although served in more than one way, the traditional Syrian ice cream appears as a roll with nuts, or pistachios, sprinkled on the outside.
Susan Jerrott lives in the neighborhood and said she's been waiting for the shop to open. She had a combination of lemon and strawberry flavours as her introduction to Syrian ice cream.
"It's really good, really flavourful. I want to support local."
Jerrott said the texture reminds her of other cold delicacies.
"I think it's like Gelato, in my opinion, but I think it's more flavour forward than an ice cream flavour. It tastes more natural."
Aljokhadar said there are still a few things he wants to do before his grand opening on July 14. He wants to add an air conditioner and debit machine, but people are still welcome to stop by and get a taste for themselves.
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