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Food forms the key to any city. Local delicacies are drenched in its flavours and quite often the combination of nibble and scent will transport you to its headier streets.

For those who have suffered strife in their homeland, it also becomes a way to reconnect with their culture and community.

The initiative #CookForSyria — which is hosting pop-ups through 2018 Dubai Food Festival that runs until March 3 — began as a supper club for friends and grew into a global awareness and charity campaign to aid war-weary citizens both in and out of Syria.

Now, the project has grown to include more than 50 eateries and generated £350,000 (Dh1,777,979), which benefits children affected by the bloodshed.

This year, on March 2, #CookForSyria is holding its first official dinner by the original team — including its founder Clerkenwellboy. It pairs up with Inked, a space in Alserkal Avenue, Dubai, known for its fantastic — if a tad unconventional — pop-up meals. (For Gulf News tabloid!’s interview with the owners of Inked, married couple Kenza and Patrick Jarjour, click here)

However, for this plate up, the owners say: “This pop-up isn’t meant to be unusual this time, it is meant to get people together and involved in a cause that is very important to all the parties involved. We are all thankful to have been given the opportunity to be part of this movement and we hope that it will continue to grow; when it comes to change every step matters.”

With a range of dishes reminiscent of the area — old favourites some, others that sparkle with the flash of inspiration — the warehouse-turned-chef laboratory is gearing up for a food fest. “We will be proposing dishes that are inspired by the #cookforsyria recipe book but Inked have created their own recipes, trying to be at the same time respectful of the Syrian cooking heritage but realising it the INKED way,” explains cookbook contributor Dalia Dogmoch.

The vision of the project though simple makes for a tall order: “To raise awareness of the plight of Syrian children, and raise funds to get them out of harm’s way. No child should live in these conditions.”

She explains the funds are raised through a slew of events including “dinners, bake sales, pop-up dinners and the cookbook” and help keep displaced children safe and well. It helps “Unicef’s Children of Syria Fund, which is placing Syrian children in a safe and child-friendly place to live and learn,” says Dogmoch.

To weave through the narrative of a country, it’s important to know its flavours. “There is always a culture, and a story behind a dish, a plate. With Syria’s raging war, it is more important than ever to tell the Syrian story, to safe keep it and to share it with the world,” says Dogmoch. And so she and her allies work towards hosting even more pop-ups — trying to make life a little better, one bite at a time.


Don’t miss it!

#CookForSyriaDxb will be held at INKED on March 2. Dh495 includes a four-course dinner that begins at 8pm. All proceeds go to charity.