The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) Vermont formerly known as Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program (VRRP) and City Market have had a long-standing partnership for a number of years. Since 2011, we’ve partnered on a monthly cooking class series titled A Mosaic of Flavor, where different cooks from the Vermont refugee community teach a class showcasing food from their home country and tell stories about their background and journey to Vermont. These classes are consistently among our most popular, often selling out the day they are posted!
When we began the cooking series partnership, a USCRI Vermont intern began cooking with different people in the Vermont refugee community, documenting their recipes, photographing their dishes and writing stories about their lives. This was the beginning of what has evolved into the Mosaic of Flavor Cookbook Project. The inspiration for the cookbook comes from the many skillful cooks who have resettled in Vermont. Fast forward to 2019 and this vision is finally becoming a reality. Last week on Wednesday, January 16th we hosted a fundraiser dinner in our South End Community Room to support this cookbook project.
The event featured four talented cooks: Bijaya Serchan and Angpasi Sherpa from Nepal, Davorka Gosto from Bosnia, and Zainab Hussein from Iraq. In the first portion of the event, cooks demoed one appetizer from each of their respective countries. Bijaya made juicy pork Momos, Davorka sampled Zelijanica (a dish very similar to the Greek Spanakopita), and Zainab made Dolmas or stuffed grape leaves. People had a chance to mingle and walk around the Community Teaching Kitchen, sampling food from each station and hearing from chefs about their culinary backgrounds. Throughout the demo portion of the evening Noel Mukiza and Clet Hakizimana treated attendees to some wonderful Burundian music.
Slowly folks made their way into the dining room for dinner. After a quick introduction from City Market and USCRI staff, each chef had a chance to talk about themselves and explain what they had made for dinner. Bijaya started selling her food at City Market a couple of years ago—you can find her ever popular potato salad in our Grab ‘n Go Cooler. Both she and Zainab have taught classes through the A Mosaic of Flavor series and Davorka is planning to teach with us this spring.
After introductions, dinner was served! Guests were treated to Achar, a fresh cucumber sesame seed curry salad, and delicious chicken curry over white rice from Nepal. Sarma (beef and rice stuffed cabbage) from Bosnia, and rice and mung beans from Iraq were offered as well. Left over Momos, Dolmas, and Zeljanica were passed around the tables as people chatted and enjoyed the food.
Last but not least, guests were treated to three beautiful platters of desserts. Davorka made Baklava, a sweet and crunchy phyllo dough desert filled with walnuts, butter and sugar. Biyaja made Kheer, a basmati rice pudding made with coconut milk and Zainab made Kleicha, a sugar cookie stuffed with dates and cardamom. To go with these delectable treats Bosnian coffee was also served, a strong and flavorful finish to this extraordinary meal.
It was a lovely evening of music, food, and conversation, not to mention we raised over $1,100 to help fund the publication of The Mosaic of Flavor Cookbook! We are grateful for the community’s support of the A Mosaic of Flavor class series and are excited to see how the cookbook turns out!
To learn more about the classes we are offering check out our classes and events listings here.