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Ladling out cultural understanding and community building through soup

Kate Zaidan, owner of Dean's Mediterranean Imports, is hosting a soup swap on Feb. 25.


Soup is a quintessential comfort food, and in these culturally polarized times, could be especially useful in countering the woes of a post-election winter. Kate Zaidan, owner of Dean’s Mediterranean Imports at Findlay Market, has organized a community "soup swap" in an effort to highlight the diverse voices of people in Cincinnati.
 
“This is part of a long tradition of community food gatherings,” Zaidan says. “I didn’t invent the idea of a soup swap — they happen all over the country. They’re great ways to get people together, do something community-oriented and leave with a benefit in the process.”
 
Zaidan is attempting to use soup as a starting point for people to discuss their heritage, while also opening their eyes to other cultures they might not have much exposure to on a regular basis.
 
“Food is such a great place to start,” Zaidan says. “We all eat, we all cook. Food is very, very personal and a source of pride for people, and I think if we can start building bridges across the divisive lines in our society with food, if we start there, it grows and builds something incredibly powerful.”
 
To attend the free event, it’s been requested that participants register ahead of time and bring a soup of their own to share. Simply make a pot of soup, divvy it into six Tupperware containers and write down the recipe in consideration of anyone with dietary restrictions. It’s expected all participants will be able to leave with five of their favorite soup samples.
 
The soup swap is a sort of inaugural event for Zaidan’s new monthly cooking club, Stir!, which recently received a $10,000 grant from People’s Liberty (the nonprofit is hosting the soup swap in their space in Over-the-Rhine). Stir will focus on a different theme each class, which is centered around creating community and sharing skills and expertise.
 
“Every single culture has its own neat recipes," Zaidan says. "Through that, we’ll have all kinds of people who might not otherwise be in a room together talking about food. Any kind of soup is welcomed. The world is your oyster.”

She adds: “If you even want to bring oyster soup, that’s totally fine too.” 
 
Hungry participants can join the soup swap at People’s Liberty, 1805 Elm St., at 11 a.m. on Feb. 25. For more information on the soup swap and Zaidan’s new cooking club, connect with the group on Facebook.
 

Read more articles by Sean M. Peters.

Sean M. Peters, a resident of Northside, is a freelance journalist and the author of the new science-fiction series Quantum Titan
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