To get a true flavour of the coun­try, join the Syr­ian Sup­per Club

The Scotsman - - LIFESTYLE - Janetchris­tie @ janetchris­tie2

When Mid­dle and I ar­rive at the Syr­ian Sup­per Club at the Cyre­nian’s Cook School in Leith, in­trigu­ing smells and spicy aro­mas waft around the cooks, led by chef Noura Selibi, all mov­ing in prac­tised har­mony. Along with hus­band Qays Dukhan, Noura set up the Club with the sup­port of home­less char­ity Cyre­ni­ans, so mem­bers of Ed­in­burgh’s refugee com­mu­nity could pre­pare some of Syria’s finest dishes and they’re a feast of cook­ing, con­ver­sa­tion and con­nec­tion.

Of course I had in­tended to take all of my off­spring but the char­ity events sell out fast and there were only two tick­ets left. Hmmm, who’s my favourite? Ob­vi­ously the cat wouldn’t ap­pre­ci­ate it, so I left it to the oth­ers to ne­go­ti­ate it out – hey, it’s a life skill.

Youngest: “I’m re­vis­ing.”

Mid­dle: “Well, El­dest has ac­tu­ally been to Syria, so I sup­pose he should go re­ally.”

( True, back be­fore the war El­dest went with Other Par­ent to visit rel­a­tives. His ap­petite whet­ted by an Xbox game, the chance to see Palmyra and visit Da­m­as­cus, Homs and Aleppo, was a trip he was up for. He came back with tales of the coun­try’s beauty, vi­brant cities, an­cient sites and friendly peo­ple, es­pe­cially the young, who wanted to talk foot­ball, that other univer­sal lan­guage af­ter food).

El­dest: Well, I have been to Syria, take Mid­dle, he loves cook­ing and eat­ing and it’ll be re­ally in­ter­est­ing.

Wow. Even­tu­ally when the fight­ing ends, the talk­ing starts and we get some­where. Next time I’ll take them all, I prom­ise.

Pre­ceded by wafts of flavour, the food ar­rives, vast bowls lined up on a ta­ble, jostling for room. We start with spicy sam­bosek pies ( who doesn’t love a pie?), move on to chicken and veg­etable smoked rice dishes, Mid­dle tucks into meat dumplings bob­bing around in yo­ghurt sauce, and there’s kibbeh ( fried bul­gur wheat and mince balls), tasty tab­bouleh salad, the sweet­est of beet­root sal­ads, smoky aubergine baba ganoush, and hon­estly the creami­est hum­mus I’ve ever had.

And with the honey laced wal­nut baklava and cof­fee, comes the best part of all, when Noura and team take the weight off their feet and join us, telling us about her coun­try’s food and how she learned to make it. Only a year here, she’s learn­ing the lan­guage, but when it comes to food, she and her Syr­ian Sup­per Club are al­ready flu­ent. n

If­tar Syr­ian Sup­per Club by Cyre­ni­ans, 21 May, £ 25, Cyre­ni­ans Com­mu­nity Cook School, 66- 68 Jane Street, Ed­in­burgh, EH6 5HG. For tick­ets, see www. even­tbrite. co. uk

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