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03/10/2017 - 07:00hs

Workshop shows history and preparation of Arab recipes

Actress Valéria Arbex will give a workshop of Arab cuisine in the city of Presidente Prudente on October 5. Dishes will be prepared along with the recovery of the emotional memory of those participating.

Lenise Pinheiro

Actress Valéria Arbex mixed art and cuisine

São Paulo – Eggplants are placed in the oven, herbs have their leaves picked, breads are toasted and orange blossoms are put aside. These and other ingredients are being manipulated to turn into baba ghanoush, mini toasts with olive oil and Za’atar, plus flavored water. So it happens in the workshop “Arab Cuisine – Emotional Memory,”which is given by actress Valéria Arbex and will be held next Thursday (5), 10 am, at SESC (Social Service of Commerce) Thermas in Presidente Prudente, 560 km west from São Paulo.

While preparing the dishes along with participants, Valéria tells about the history of the foods and her own memories about the preparation of the recipes in her family. Attendees are also encouraged to share their childhood memories that the preparation of the dishes evokes, be it about food that’s Arab or from other origins.

“Each ingredient has a history,” says the actress about the Arab recipes taught at the workshop. Valéria doesn’t relay encyclopedic-type stories but she talks, for instance, about the simplicity with which Arabs used to prepare their food, with ingredients taken from the houses’ yards, tells about the bread with olive oil and Za’atar, brought to the school by the children as snacks. “It helps with the memory,” says the actress, repeating what she heard from her family.

Valéria also covers other topics when she starts talking about the country of origin of her family – Syria – and has the opportunity to demystify the region, the image of the war and terrorism that it carries and tell a little about what in fact is Islam. As she cooks, the actress recites a poetry verse, which might be from the Palestine poet Mahmoud Darwish, who talked about the lime, coffee and bread in his work.

While the conversation takes place, the actress and the participants are preparing the baba ghanoush, which is an eggplant dip with tahina. They also prepare bread with olive oil and Za’atar with other Brazilian seasonings such as thyme, salvia, parsley and oregano. The third recipe, of flavored water, has rose and pomegranate essences, Sicilian lime and rose, mint and ice. At the end, everything is eaten by the group that prepared it and Valéria also brings raha, an Arab sweet, to be tasted.

The workshop is based on the play Salamaleque, a project created by the actress, who also acts in the play. It opened in 2013 and is still being presented in Brazilian cities. In the play, while she tells about the stories of Arab immigrants in Brazil, Valéria cooks on the stage and prepares snacks for the audience. The play was based in love letters exchanged by the actress’ grandmother and grandfather, and based on them she began to research the history of the immigrants.

One day before the workshop at SESC, Salamaleque will be presented by the group Cia Damasco de Teatro in two organizations for the elderly, the Elderly Reference Center and Dignity Villa, both in Presidente Prudente. The play is also organized by SESC, but is only for the elderly in both organizations. The presentations celebrate the International Day of Older Persons on October 1. The cuisine workshop also is for people above 60 years old to celebrate the date. In case the openings aren’t taken, other people can join.

Quick info

Workshop Arab Cuisine – Emotional Memory
October 5, 2017, at 10 am
SESC Kiosk – Rua Alberto Peters, 111 - Presidente Prudente - SP
Early registrations and free of charge – 20 openings (for older persons)
Phone: 55 183226-0400
Information: https://www.sescsp.org.br/aulas/135408_CULINARIA+ARABE+MEMORIA+AFETIVA

*Translated by Sérgio Kakitani

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