Three years ago I created a digital download of my Mum's family recipes to raise money for the Red Cross Syria appeal. With the help of sharing, retweeting and a fundraising event by Demuth's cookery school, it raised an amazing £2,800.
Three years on and with the situation having deteriorated so badly, I'm relaunching it in an effort to help the huge numbers of refugees who have left Syria and other war torn countries - people who have no choice but to leave behind the country they love, enduring horrific conditions as they try to find their way to a better life elsewhere. All money raised will go to Doctors of the World UK, the only charity providing medical help on the ground in Calais and other parts of the world affected by conflict and the refugee crisis.
Buy the ebook for £5 here.
A bit more about Mum.
Hayfa Massouh was born in 1938 in Damascus. Her father Toufik, a Lebanese lawyer, died when she was six. Her mother Alice was a diplomat, originally from Homs, who enjoyed a long career in the British Embassy in Damascus for which she was awarded an MBE.
In 1958 after the Suez war, Britain severed relations with Syria and the Embassy was closed. When Alice was offered a new job in Morocco she left with Hayfa straight away, not even stopping to pack for fear of being caught by the government. They boarded an Italian ship and set sail from Beirut, arriving in Casablanca in February 1957 and settling in Rabat. Mum met my Dad Geoff while working at the British Embassy there. After a happy 35 years touring the world wherever his job took him, Mum died in 2006.
Of all the ways her family and friends remember her, one in particular will live on forever. Her mouth-watering cooking. Mum's family recipes were legendary, and she was never happier than when she was fixing up plates of tabbouleh, kibbee and hummus for her friends. Anyone who has sampled a Middle Eastern spread made by Hayfa will never forget it. That’s why my sister and I persuaded her to write a recipe book of her favourite dishes from home, and when she died a few years later we gave copies of her recipes away to guests at the wake. It seemed to be the most positive and appropriate way to remember her.
Mum died unaware of the tragic violence that would sweep over Syria just a few years later. She would have been heartbroken if not surprised by the lack of respect shown to its people, having experienced for herself the terror of leaving the country she loved in the dead of night, to start a new life elsewhere.
I visited Syria with my sister and cousin during happier times in 2010, and for me it is one of the most special places in the world. Touring the huge souks of Damascus and Aleppo gave us a better measure of the country than any amount of museums could, and we were bowled over by the unrelenting charm, warmth and humour of Syrian life. We spent days on end wandering the crowded back lanes inhaling the incredible spices, tasting various fruit juices and pastries from street sellers and dining on the most delicious and exciting food we had ever tasted.
These are all family recipes and the book is interspersed with photos of our trip to Syria.
Thank you for looking and if you decide to buy, I hope you enjoy the food as much as generations of my family have.
Sahtain! (twice your health!)
Buy the ebook for £5 here.