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Monthly Chef Q&A: Arfat Harsho

This week, we are bringing you a Q&A with one of our chefs, Arfat Harsho, who travelled to Canada from Aleppo with her family in 2018.

Can you describe what your life in Syria was like before the war, and what you miss most about it?

My life was simple, full of love and safety. I miss my family the most. 

How did you feel during your first weeks and months in Canada?

I arrived in Canada on October 17th, 2018. I had a feeling of fear, but I concealed it and pretended to be strong so that my fear did not affect my children. I decided to fight it.

It’s very difficult to move to a new country without any roots, family or immediate job prospects at hand. How did you navigate this period and come out the other side smiling?

I was trying to take advantage of any opportunity to cope and I fought hard. My fear was for myself and my children of being lost, so we started studying from the first month of our arrival, and began looking for work.

What is your favourite dish to make?

My favorite dish is the kibbeh. I love it because it reminds me of all the people I love. 

What would you say sets Syrian food apart from other Middle Eastern cuisines?

Syrian cuisine is distinguished by its varied appetizers and flavours, and new varieties that are not found in other countries.

What do you think is the biggest misconception about Syrian food? 

I think people can think that it is unhealthy, but in fact most dishes are considered healthy.

If you could only cook with one ingredient, what would it be and why?

That would be chickpeas! I can make many dishes from it, including falafel if I just add some spices. 

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