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Canada: Halal Food Fest showcases diverse, exotic taste of halal food
(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - Jivraj, has run the blog HalalFoodie.ca for the past two years, where she reviews halal restaurants around town and connects food lovers to the food makers. The idea for the Toronto halal food festival came to her after she heard about a small scale one which took place in New Jersey last summer.
“I thought this would be such a great thing for Toronto since we have such a diverse food offering and diverse population,” she said. “But then I thought who would organize it here?”
She gathered some fellow foodies and together, after months of planning, they have put together a free two-day culinary extravaganza that includes seven festival areas including “sample city,” a bazaar, food courts and an outdoor street fest.
But just as important as the food is transparency, said Jivraj. That’s why the festival organizers will require food vendors to display an information sheet indicating whether the meat is hand- or machine-slaughtered, and if they serve alcohol or pig byproducts at their restaurant.
While there will be traditional cuisines such as Indian and Middle Eastern, there will be no shortage of diverse options ranging from Japanese, Mexican, Portuguese, and Italian. And there will be some traditional food festival fare as well, including cooking exhibitions, a cake decorating competition and cheese sampling.
“A big problem of consumers, day to day, is cheese,” said Jivraj. “I get a lot of questions on my blog from people asking where they can find cheese like fresh parmesan,” she said. “For some consumers, the big issue is animal rennet.”
So festival organizers reached out to Dairy Farmers of Canada, one of the three platinum sponsors of the event, to come on board and educate the Muslim community on the variety of “permissible” cheeses available in the market.
“For us, it was a learning experience,” said Gianna Ciancio, Program Manager in Marketing for Dairy Farmers of Canada. They will be hosting cheese samplings the two days and will test out a range of kosher cheeses, which have similar ingredient restrictions, said Ciancio.
Jivraj is insistent that the event is for everyone, regardless of religious affiliation. “If you like food, this is an event for you,”
Toronto’s first Halal Food Fest at the International Centre in Mississauga on June 1 and 2.