Edmonton Journal

Ed­mon­tonEats brings tastes of the world to you with meal kits

- TOM MUR­RAY Food · Recipes · Cooking · Infectious Diseases · Health Conditions · Libya · Bangladesh · Somalia · Edmonton · Canada

Cindy Lazarenko re­ally wasn't ex­pect­ing to be­come the equiv­a­lent of a food de­tec­tive in 2020.

“This has hon­estly been one of the most chal­leng­ing things I've ever done in my ca­reer,” the chef and ed­u­ca­tor laughs about her role at Ed­mon­toneats, where she's been over­see­ing the so­cial en­ter­prise's Hol­i­day Cul­tural Box Event. Tasked with gather­ing recipes from cul­tural hosts hail­ing from Libya, Bangladesh and Syria, Lazarenko has weaved her way around lan­guage is­sues, long cher­ished fam­ily recipes that have never been writ­ten down, and, of course, a pan­demic. You re­mem­ber the pan­demic, right?

“That's when I signed on for the (Ed­mon­toneats) Taste of So­ma­lia event in March,” Lazarenko rue­fully chuck­les. “We were ready to go and then had to can­cel. Like ev­ery­one else we won­dered where to pro­ceed from there, es­pe­cially since we had sold a lot of tick­ets. Did we need to give out re­funds?”

Thank­fully not. Rather than rid­ing out the pan­demic and pick­ing up again when things had set­tled down, Lazarenko, Ed­mon­toneats co-founder Mau­reen Mur­phy-black, and the rest of the team de­cided to go ahead with the So­ma­lia event in Au­gust, devel­op­ing a three course meal that was boxed and then de­liv­ered on the day of. While more work than they an­tic­i­pated, it also gave them the seed of the idea for their Hol­i­day Cul­tural Box Event.

“Well, we couldn't do pop ups, and we couldn't part­ner with any restau­rants,” she sighs.

“They're barely keep­ing up with things as it is. Then we talked about tea and spice blends, and that's where the idea for a recipe kit re­ally came to­gether.”

The kits come in two vari­a­tions (af­ter their Sweet Treats Box sold out quickly), the Recipe Kit Box and The Cel­e­bra­tion Box.

The Recipe Kit Box boasts falafel mix, hariseh cake mix, chicken pasta mix, plus a curry Ben­gali chicken recipe with spice blends and rice kit, all oc­ca­sion cards by BILD Pho­tog­ra­phy, and a So­ma­lian tea blend.

The Cel­e­bra­tion Box has all of the above, with the ad­di­tion of Honey Vine­gar, Al­mond Rocher ( by Culina to Go), a pack­age of black nigella seeds, and a cou­ple of other items. As with other Ed­mon­toneats ven­tures, 75 per cent of the prof­its go back to the cul­tural hosts.

“It still took us a long time to get

It all turned out re­ally well ... We've got­ten mes­sages al­ready from peo­ple say­ing they need more spices so they can make the dish again.

this go­ing,” says Lazarenko about the boxes, which as of this writ­ing are three-quar­ters sold out. “There were times when we got the mea­sure­ments wrong be­cause of a mis­un­der­stand­ing, and had to cross some­thing out on the recipe card. Some of the cul­tural hosts are very busy with their fam­i­lies, and it took awhile be­fore we got an­swers on a few things. It all turned out re­ally well in the end, though. We've got­ten mes­sages al­ready from peo­ple say­ing they need more spices so they can make the dish again, so there's an op­por­tu­nity for us to pack­age spices to buy on­line.”

KID FOOD NA­TION

Con­grat­u­la­tions to Dong­dao Xiao, who re­cently had his recipe for Pan­demic Chicken se­lected to be in this year's Kid Food Na­tion cook­book.

The 11-year-old Ed­mon­ton boy is one of 27 win­ners from across Canada to also win a prize pack and vir­tual cook­ing les­son from celebrity chef Lynn Craw­ford.

The fourth edi­tion of the

Kid Food Na­tion cook­book is avail­able for pur­chase on­line at Edi­tions-car­di­nal, and you can find young Dong­dao's recipe at Kid Food Na­tion.

 ??  ?? Afaf Bay­oud, right, and her daugh­ter Jwearia Afaf make Im­bak­baka (chicken and pasta) for the Ed­mon­toneats Hol­i­day Cul­tural Box Event.
Afaf Bay­oud, right, and her daugh­ter Jwearia Afaf make Im­bak­baka (chicken and pasta) for the Ed­mon­toneats Hol­i­day Cul­tural Box Event.

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