New Tastebuds Youth Food Share
Written by Kelly Bateson
On October 12, I had the privilege of attending the Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House for the New Tastebuds Youth Food Share. Upon arriving, I got a behind the scenes look at all the hard work going into the chopped salad and “to die for” baba ganoush. In the kitchen, I witnessed at least 10 kg of chopped tomatoes and more garlic than I have ever seen in one bowl at one time. Most apparent of all, was the sense of synergy and warmth, not from the oven, but radiating from the youth.
The youth were essentially a family, having spent years together at the Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House in youth programs. These enthusiastic youngsters gather every Saturday to make meals, share ideas, bond, and go on exciting outings like movies and trips to the zoo! They have even produced a film about suicidal thoughts and self-care for the PNE Claymation competition, in order to raise awareness on these important topics. It’s seriously inspiring what young minds can do when they come together.
While setting up the food table, they played some traditional Middle Eastern beats and danced around, pots, pans and tabbouleh in hand. They labelled every dish, both in English and Arabic and added some artistic flare with unique and colourful drawings.
One of the older youth told me that they had each chosen the menu items from their own cultures which, helped make them feel more at home during the Thanksgiving festivities. She described the spread as “traditional African, Arab, and Middle Eastern food” and went on to tell me the secret behind smooth hummus and drool-worthy details of the basbousa dessert.
Don’t worry, I won’t keep these precious secrets to myself. Below are some tips shared with me for homemade hummus.
Tip #1: ALWAYS remove the chickpea skins.
Tip #2: The quality of your hummus is reflective of the quality of your ingredients. Namely Tahini.
Tip #3: After blending the garlic and lemon juice strain it through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth to avoid chunks in the hummus.
Tip #4: Canned chickpeas have a bland tin-like flavour compared to dried chickpeas that you soak and cook on your own.
Although I did not get the recipe for basbousa, I can still tell you about it, and trust me you will want to find a good recipe for this special treat.
Basbousa is a traditional Middle Eastern sweet cake that originated in Egypt. It is made from semolina batter and flavoured with rosewater, orange flower water and everyone’s favourite ingredient, sugar. I had never heard of this dish but was so lucky to learn about it from these talented young chefs.
During meal time, I sat with some of the local community members, who were also first timers at Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House. We chatted about other events going on in Sustenance Festival and raved about the bourgle rice. There were lots of families who came out for the event and the room was full of laughter. It was nice to see the youth so proud of their feast and able to share their cultural dishes with the community.
This event was such a great opportunity to build a sense of belonging in the neighborhood, learn about traditional Middle Eastern dishes and eat some warm, delicious treats. I was so impressed with the teamwork and skills these youth showed and I hope Vancouver neighbourhoods can provide more community spaces and opportunity for fellowship and growth similar to that of Frog Hollow. I feel very lucky to have attended and can’t wait to come back for a third helping in the future!