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Print Posted By Almadina Halal Meat & Deli on 04/21/2017

MARIAM HAMDAN

MARIAM HAMDAN Mariam Hamdan was an eighteen year old young lady who came from Lala, Lebanon in 1954. She was on her way to meet her husband, who was in Edmonton. Accompanying her, at the time, was her two and a half year old son. She could speak no English at this time. Her journey, by ship, was very pleasant because she had a private room on the ship that brought her to Canada. Once she was in Halifax, she was greeted by a government official who offered to buy her some food before she was to board the train for Edmonton. Mariam travelled on the train for three days and three nights. Her son would be kept warm on the train, in a snowsuit, that was purchased in Beirut. People in Lebanon had warned her that Canadian winters could be cold and it would be wise to have some warmer clothing for the child as well as herself. When in Edmonton, she was greeted by her husband and Ali and Hilwie Hamdon. In her new city,she would be helped with her English by a lady who told her to repeat English words and phrases as often as possible. Mariam knew that in order to progress in Canada, people had to speak English. As time moved on,Mariam started to do some cooking in a restaurant owned by a Ukrainian family. Before Mariam's arrival at the restaurant,the wife of the restaurant's owner did the cooking. Mariam remembers the wife making some soup at this time. The young,Mariam, noticed that the soup did not have much flavour. She told the wife to add some salt , pepper, and celery, along with a few other things in order to give the soup more flavour and taste. The customers were impressed with the soup and, soon, Mariam was the new chef in the restaurant. She would cook hamburger sandwiches and would make certain that she removed most, if not all, of the grease from the meat. Cooking tended to be a natural thing for Mariam. She learned how to cook, by watchingthe older people in Lebanon do their cooking. It is from watching these older people that she developed her cooking skills. She started learning the cooking skills when she was only nine or ten years of age. She describes, herself, as a very fast learner when it comes to cooking. Mariam would stay at this restaurant for one and a half years.Then,she and her husband, opened their own restaurant in the Beverly area. In order to get ownership of the restaurant, they traded an old car they had for the restaurant. This restaurant had to be cleaned,thoroughly,before customers could enter the business. When the business was, eventually,opened, Mariam started baking apple pies and cinnamon rolls. The great smell of these baked goods spread to outside of the building and attracted many customers to come in and buy her baked products. They would keep the restaurant operating for two years. It was hard work keeping up with the demands and soon they were out of the restaurant business. With the restaurant gone,Mariam decided to cook out of her home. She made lots of kibbee and fatayers, and would sell them to regular customers. Over the years,she was asked to teach cooking to people who were putting on banquets. These people were happy to learn Mariam's cooking skills. In 1965, Mariam and her husband moved to Windsor, Ontario and, also, spent time in London, Ontario. They would remain in Ontario for the next sixteen years. Some family members who were living in Edmonton then asked their parents to return to the city. The parents agreed to do so, and soon they were back in Edmonton in 1981. In 1983,they bought a store and would operate it until Mr.Hamdan passed away. Mariam Hamdan continues to live in Edmonton surrounded by family members. When I left Mariam's house after the interview was finished,Mariam gave me a fruit loaf she had baked for me to take home. When eating the fruit loaf, I realized that I was eating a quality product made by an excellent baker.
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