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Salma the Syrian Chef

by eileenw

Book cover for Salma the Syrian Chef: a young girl wearing a chef's hat and holding a bowl, surrounded by community.Salma the Syrian Chef is a picture book by Dann Ramadan, illustrated by Anna Bron, about a young Syrian refugee and her mother who have recently arrived in Vancouver, Canada. Salma sees how sad and tired her mother has become since they had to leave their home in Damascus and Salma’s papa. Salma decides to make her mother’s favorite dish, foul shami, as a surprise to cheer her up. But Salma isn’t sure of the recipe and doesn’t know the English names of all the ingredients. With help from other immigrants living with them at the Welcome Center and staff, Salma and her new community of Syrians, Somalians, Iranians, Canadians, Lebanese, Venezuelans, and others, tackle these and other challenges along the way to create not just a dish but a joyful journey centered on food and memories.

The story highlights the complex emotions of the immigrant experience, and the bright illustrations are framed by Syrian-inspired geometric patterns. If you’re the kind of person who cries at poignant moments, be prepared to choke up in a few spots along this touching story of resilience, the importance of community, and finding home.

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