Sat, Aug 12, 2017 - Page 13 News List

Unfamiliar crop in a besieged town

An NGO in the Syrian town of Douma has turned to growing mushrooms to provide protein to area residents in the absence of meat

AFP, Douma, Syria

FIRST ENCOUNTER

It’s a major boon for people like Um Mohammed, a mother-of-four, who can only dream of affording meat at prices of around US$10 a kilogram.

“If you’re able to get mushrooms, it’s a huge blessing,” the 50-year-old said.

“It’s as though you’re eating a dish of fish or chicken or meat,” she added, preparing a dish in her sparsely furnished home, wearing a black robe and headscarf.

Abu Adnan al-Sidawi, 30, had never even tasted mushrooms before he received them through the project.

“I received a bowl of mushrooms three or four weeks ago,” said Sidawi, who suffered multiple fractures in his leg and back in an air strike in April.

“I didn’t know what they were and I’d never eaten them before. I learnt how to cook them from the Internet,” he said.

“On the first day, I fried them up with some onions, and on the second day I cooked them in a yogurt sauce,” he said, lying on a bed in his house.

“Mushrooms are delicious cooked and we liked them in the yogurt sauce,” he said with a smile.

Like many adults in Douma, the city’s children were also unfamiliar with the ingredient.

At one psychosocial center, the children saw mushrooms for the first time when they were distributed during the fasting month of Ramadan, an employee said.

“I organized a small workshop to teach them about it and how it is cooked,” said the employee, who asked to be identified as Rasha.

“When I showed it to them, they said to me: ‘Miss, what is that? A flower?’”

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