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Diocesan News

Food brings cultures together

By Frank Flegel


REGINA — Borscht, blini, beet, carrot and potato salad, kugel, babka, and compote — Russian food and all free if you happened to be a guest at the April 26 a Taste of Russia event held at Beth Jacob Synagogue.

“We wanted to bring people together in a special way to have them under one roof enjoying a taste of different cultures,” said Helen Kesten, one of the organizers.

About 110 men, women and children, visibly of different cultures, were served Russian dishes in a traditional way, placing bowls and platters of the various foods on round tables and people helping themselves. It sponsored by the Regina and District Jewish Association and Beth Jacob Synagogue.

A menu that accompanied the meal explained that food is a personal and important theme in everyday life. We have stories immersed in culinary traditions that often overlap and interact, creating food mixes and culinary combinations that belong to specific groups but also belong to everyone else. The foods of many cultures create a tapestry of cuisines.

This was the third of the series. A Taste of Israel was the first, followed by India. “Everything relates back to Jewish and Israeli and Mediterranean cuisine, “said Kesten.

The idea is to see the differences and similarities of the cultures and foods of people around the Mediterranean, she said. One of the examples given as a similar food in the Russian and Jewish cultures was the Russian blini, a thin pancake stuffed with various ingredients which is called a blintz in Jewish culture.

The food was prepared by Xenia Orlenka, a chef from Russia currently working at Cobs Bread, a new bakery in the Harbour Landing district of west Regina. She demonstrated how she prepares the ingredients of several dishes with the aid of a Russian translator.

Borscht was the first food offered, followed with a platter of potato salad and vinaigrette (a beet and bean based salad), carrot salad, blinis with sour cream, kugel (eggs, vermicelli pasta and vanilla pudding) babka (flour, sugar, eggs, yeast, margarine) and compote/tzimes a drink made from dried fruit boiled down.

Kesten said while the program has been fully sponsored by the Jewish Association and the synagogue, she expects those attending upcoming events may be asked to place a voluntary contribution in a bowl by the entrance.

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