"Layering Flavors, Tastes, and Textures"
Kardal Abdullah was doing
quite well with Syrian Foods.
Penina Trueblood had helped him
fill out paperwork for various programs
and then apply the relevant stickers
to his food truck, which definitely
boosted the customer flow.
He had a set of magnets for
his new magnetic chalkboard
to mark things like whole grains,
dairy free, vegetarian, and vegan.
"You're doing so well now,"
Penina said. "I'm so delighted
to see Syrian Foods succeeding."
"Well, you helped," he said.
Penina had also supplied him with
a free source of divided paper plates
for the Healthy Plate, and Kardal
had added a couple new items
to boost the choices for it.
Makhluta had a mix of
whole grains and lentils.
Kompot was a salad of
dried fruit topped with yogurt.
Mediterranean cuisine was
popular across cultures,
especially now that Kardal
had put up a big poster
showing its food pyramid.
Kardal often saw people
checking their smartphones
or vidwatches, then smiling
when they found his truck,
so the app was helping too.
Meeting with Penina was
a lot more fun than he had
expected, because she could
go on and on about the virtues
of olive oil, and she never minded
calling a secretary into her office
so that he wouldn't be alone
with an unrelated woman.
Penina had introduced Kardal
to elephant garlic, which had heads
the size of a whole onion, and was
much easier to roast than little garlic.
He had found a recipe for dip that was
just roasted elephant garlic, olive oil, and
whatever seasonings you wanted. He
made one version with fresh herbs like
parsley and mint, others with spices --
it was good with baharat or za'atar.
Kardal was making more connections
with other refugees, too, as people
felt secure enough to start working.
The atheist goat farmer had found
a Muslim butcher, so now Kardal
could get zabiha goat meat.
He made koobideh kebabs and
alternated them with the lamb.
"I missed this," said Ibrahim Khaled.
"Not many restaurants in Vermont
serve goat. Thank you for making it."
There were bakers and farmers,
a few spice blenders, and even
a new vinegar maker who was
brewing every fruit in Vermont.
Mandy's Diner had two people
making the Syrian food now.
Slowly the refugees were
building a support network.
Kardal made a point of
exploring other food trucks.
He found one that sold grinders
made with halal ingredients.
It was a wonderful sandwich,
but he did not want to sell any.
It was not Syrian at all.
Then he thought about that.
He had completed classes
in Entrepreneurship and
the Food Truck Academy,
which taught him a lot about
developing new products.
Surely he could come up
with a giant Syrian sandwich.
Kardal looked up what a grinder
was, and basically it was a pile of
meat and vegetables on bread.
There was no reason that he
couldn't do that with pita bread
and more Syrian fixings.
Kardal went into his kitchen
and invented the Hummus Buster.
It had two ovals of pita covered
in hummus, some tabouli, and
Za'atar Maple Chicken bits.
He figured it would work as well
with any of his meats, or falafel,
and the various salads too.
The hummus sealed the pita
so that the wet vegetables
wouldn't make it soggy.
You could even substitute
another dip for the hummus
on one piece of pita, if you
wanted more variety.
At his next event, Kardal
added the Hummus Buster
to his menu and watched.
People liked it, all right, but
he noticed something odd.
Every one of them took a bite,
put the sandwich down, picked up
their phone, then went back to eat.
Half an hour later, Syrian Foods
was completely mobbed.
Kardal figured out that
people had been telling
all their friends about
the new sandwich.
So that was a success.
Soon he found himself
beginning to get visits
from foodies who had
driven to Rutledge just
for a Hummus Buster --
apparently people traveled
to find the best sandwiches.
"The most appealing thing
to me about food is combining and
layering flavors, tastes, and textures,"
one said. "So the perfect sandwich
has to be toasted. It has to have
Emmenthal Swiss cheese and
a combination of sweet and savory --
some cranberry or fig thing happening --
with different kinds of meats like
Black Forest ham and roast beef."
He ordered a Hummus Buster anyhow.
Kardal didn't care if the fellow wanted
Aleppo pepper hummus on one side
and chocolate on the other, and
bought an extra kebab so he
could have lamb and chicken.
The money was good, and
the foodie wasn't a jerk.
Word got around quickly,
and the crowds grew
around Syrian Foods.
A food festival booked him
for Grinder Day on October 9.
The Hummus Buster was
becoming a Rutledge thing.
Kardal felt proud of contributing
something to his new home town.
* * *
Kardal Abdullah -- He has pinkish-fair skin, black eyes, and short black hair with a mustache and beard. His heritage is Syrian. He speaks Arabic and English. He is 20 years old in 2014.
Kardal grew up in Aleppo, Syria where he worked as a street cook. When the uprising intensified to civil war in mid-June 2012, his family home got destroyed in a bombing and they escaped to join relatives in Damascus. By mid-July, however, Damascus became unsafe. They fled again, but this time Kardal's parents were killed trying to leave the city. He made his way southeast, hoping to escape through Jordan, but got turned back at Hadalat and Rukban. So he went a little north and snuck over the border into Iraq. From there he traveled south through Saudi Arabia to the United Arab Emirates. In January 2013 Kardal got lucky and the Emirates Airline took pity on him, offering a zakat ticket to a traveler in distress, which landed him in Heathrow Airport, London, Britannia. He tried to settle there, but it was too crowded and the government didn't want him to stay. He shuffled around the United Kingdom for months before securing an opportunity to travel to America in November 2013.
In January 2014, Kardal heard about a chance to settle in Rutledge, Vermont. He pounced on it. A few months later, he managed to get a job working as a cook at Mandy's Diner. They wanted someone familiar with halal food in general and Syrian cuisine in particular. Kardal is deeply grateful for the job, and his cautious nature is an asset in a busy kitchen. His innovations include za'atar maple candied nuts, za'atar maple chicken kebabs, and za'atar maple sesame seed bars. Kardal completed an Entrepreneurship Certificate at St. Joseph College in Rutledge, then Food Truck Academy online. In July 2015, he launched the food truck Syrian Foods.
Because of his experiences, Kardal grieves his lost family and fears losing new people that he meets. He worries about running out of resources or being robbed of them. He feels let down by the government, not just in Syria but others along the way who refused to help, which makes it hard for him to trust the offers of support in Rutledge. However, Kardal tries very hard to fit in. Usually this makes life easier, but he also has a bad habit of hiding things that he thinks other people might disagree with.
Qualities: Good (+2) Cautious, Good (+2) Cook, Good (+2) Gratitude, Good (+2) Muslim, Good (+2) Stamina
Poor (-2) Living Through Civil Unrest
Motivation: "Even when life is unjust, it's better to do as I'm told than to make waves."
On 12 June 2012, the UN for the first time officially proclaimed Syria to be in a state of civil war. The conflict began moving into the two largest cities, Damascus and Aleppo. In both cities, peaceful protests – including a general strike by Damascus shopkeepers and a small strike in Aleppo were interpreted as indicating that the historical alliance between the Ba'ath government and the business establishment in the large cities had become weak.
In mid-July, rebel forces attacked Damascus and were repelled in two weeks, although fighting continued in the outskirts. After this, the focus shifted to the battle for control of Aleppo.
The United Arab Emirates is a country on the Arabian Peninsula. It runs a major Middle Eastern airline with widespread destinations.
This map shows potential points of escape from Syria. Legal routes are all but impossible. Compare with a map of the Middle East.
* * *
"The most appealing thing to me about food is combining and layering flavors, tastes, and textures. So the perfect sandwich has to be toasted. It has to have Emmenthal Swiss cheese and a combination of sweet and savory -- some cranberry or fig thing happening -- with different kinds of meats like Black Forest ham and roast beef."
-- Kyle MacLachlan
Refugees often struggle to find work. Some organizations help refugees identify skills and engage employers. Here is a handbook.
Rutledge negotiated with nearby colleges to support refugees by offering some programs cheap or free. Bachelor's degrees are usually discounted, often by making the first year or two free. Associates degrees may be discounted or free. Most certificates are free. Refugees can take a certain number of individual classes free too. The government also provides free retraining for refugees with job skills who only need American credentials to resume work, and free training in high-demand careers for those without job skills.
College of St. Joseph in Rutledge, Vermont
College of St. Joseph’s 18-credit Entrepreneurship minor provides non-business majors with the specialized background necessary to market the knowledge from other disciplines in a business or commercial environment.
The major also provides you with a basic understanding of major business subject areas, facilitating your transition into the world of business.
Requirements for an Entrepreneurship Minor
Course Credits Description
ACC101 Financial Accounting 3 Introduces students to generally accepted accounting principles and accounting process with regards to corporations, partnerships, and sole-proprietorships. The basic concepts, principles, and techniques used to generate accounting data, financial statements and the interpretation and use of financial data to enhance the decision-making process are covered.
BUS101 Introduction to Business 3 This introductory course provides the student with an overview of business and its environment. Topics include business trends, globalization, forms of ownership, business law, entrepreneurship, management, leadership, human resource management, marketing, decision making, accounting, finance, business ethics, and social responsibility.
BUS205 Principles of Management 3 Introduces basic management principles used in the organizational environment. The four management functions studied are planning, organizing, leading and controlling. Other topics include the evolution of management theory, ethics, social responsibility, diversity, organizational structure, human resource management, motivation, leadership, groups and teams, communication, organizational conflict and change, operations management, information systems and technology, innovation, product development, and entrepreneurship.
BUS211 Business Finance 3 Studies the field of finance, both private and public, with emphasis placed on current approaches as they pertain to a business. The mathematics of finance, capital budgets, loan and investment alternatives and working capital management are discussed. Prerequisite: BUS102 or MAT103 and ACC101.
BUS309 Marketing 3 Examines the foundations of marketing principles with application of marketing concepts of the present and future. Emphasis is placed on problem solving, critical thinking skills, ethics, and competition while studying the topics of market analysis, target marketing, product pricing, strategic promotion, and distribution. Sophomore standing.
BUS403 Entrepreneurship 3 Explores the idea of starting and managing your own business and examines the challenges of growing an entrepreneurial enterprise. Emphasizes the importance of planning, analyzing market opportunities, launching the venture, financing and harvesting the venture. Students gain an understanding of how to develop and use the business plan. Junior-level standing or permission of Division Chairperson.
Food Truck Academy
Everything you need to start and operate a profitable food truck business is included in this 8 week course. From pricing food items to building a food truck to one-on-one help, this training has it all.
This is much more than a food truck e-book. This is a full-blown live class that includes one-on-one consulting at no extra charge. The coaches will get to know you on a first name basis and work with you directly so you'll be armed with all the information you need.
Syria belongs to the family of Mediterranean countries. Syrian cuisine uses key ingredients that generally match the Mediterranean food pyramid. The Mediterranean diet is the best by multiple measures. Learn how to follow it. Enjoy some Syrian recipes and culinary resources.
(Some of these links are controversial. Others involving slaughter techniques are graphic.)
The Syrian Foods truck serves only halal items. Halal food standards describe what Muslims may eat or use, in simple or more complex terms. These vary across cultures, and even between individuals, as we saw in the debate over halal-tayyib. Halal certification offers various benefits for producers and vendors. This discussion of the knowledge base covers things such as animal feed and the difference between halal and certified-halal products. In particular, foodstuff which is halal by category may be made haram (forbidden) if it comes into contact with haram substances or practices; for example, if any pork products are used in a factory, they tend to contaminate everything. Here is a very detailed description and demonstration of halal slaughter techniques, with the basic concepts in earlier videos and actual slaughter in last of the three. The results are quite impressive, but be aware that it requires a level of faith-based magic and animal-handling skill that not many people achieve. Here is a whole book on religious slaughtering techniques, but it allows mechanical methods not as good as hand slaughtering. Note that commercial slaughterhouses, as opposed to small businesses or individuals, are primarily concerned with cutting as many corners as possible, as you can see from the things they have subsequently been told not to do. As with any product, if you want to be SURE what you're getting, do it yourself or buy from a producer you know and trust. Good ones exist, but they are not common here as the market works against them. T-America does somewhat better. It can be difficult and expensive to obtain halal food, but Muslims are obligated to do so, which makes food a major concern for those living in non-Muslim areas.
Zabiha meat is processed according to halal requirements.
There are instructions on halal cooking for home cooks and professionals. In general, washing is sufficient to purify cookware contaminated by unclean things, but given a choice most Muslims would prefer new cookware. Here are more detailed directions on purifying tools that have been contaminated. This discussion explores some group and individual variations, in which the most important is to follow an imam you know and trust, because they sometimes make different rulings.
The basic Dip Tray has 1 dip with fresh vegetables, pita bread, or pita chips. People often buy that as the start of lunch and then add extra things like falafel or a side salad.
The Friendship Dip Platter is available in several sizes:
* 2-person: 2 dips with fresh vegetables and either pita bread or pita chips
* 4-person: 3 dips with fresh vegetables, pita bread, and pita chips
* 6-person: 4 dips with fresh vegetables, pita bread, pita chips, and either hard-boiled eggs or falafel
* Party Size: some of every dip that day with fresh vegetables, pita bread, pita chips, hard-boiled eggs, falafel, kabiss, and olives
The Hummus Snack Tray comes with a small tub of hummus, fresh vegetables, and pita bread or chips.
The Hummus Sampler Platter comes with three small tubs of hummus, fresh vegetables, pita bread, pita chips, and optional fresh fruit.
The Hummus Meal Platter comes with a medium tub of hummus, fresh vegetables, pita bread or chips, choice of boiled eggs or falafel, a side salad, and a drink.
The Hummus Buster is a giant sandwich made with two big ovals of pita bread filled with:
* Za'atar Maple Chicken Kebab meat, shawarma meat, OR falafel
* tabouli, Syrian chopped salad, Syrian pickled vegetables, OR fresh vegetables
* hummus spread on both pita ovals OR hummus on one oval and any other spread on the other oval
Basically, Kardal learned about grinder sandwiches and figured he could build something better. The Buster Munch Combo adds a side order of fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, or salad and a drink. The Buster Meal Combo adds a side order of fresh fruit, either fresh vegetables or salad, dessert, and a drink. You can get it cut in half and it will feed two people if they order sides. The Buster Couple Combo has a Hummus Buster cut in half, fresh fruit, 2 side salads, baked onion crisps, olives, 2 desserts, and 2 drinks.
A long sandwich may be called a sub (most places), grinder (Boston, also Vermont), hoagie (Philadelphia), hero (New York City), poor boy, bomber, Italian sandwich, baguette, or samey. It is a subset of giant sandwiches along with the dagwood. The Hummus Buster is a new Vermont addition.
Elephant garlic is good for roasting and makes excellent dip.
Koobideh Kebabs are made with goat meat.
Fruit vinegar can be brewed or infused. Here are some recipes. You can pick your own fruit, and consider what grows in Vermont.
Large sandwiches have many names. Grinder Day is October 9. Explore some of the best sandwiches in America.
LPI Rx for Health Plate is one popular example of a Healthy Plate. T-America offers these as flat or divided plates, disposable or reusable. An advantage of divided plates in a food truck is that they assist with measuring consistent servings of each food.
Healthy Plate LPI Rx for Health
Whole Grains: lavash bread, makhluta (mixed whole grains with lentils), or tabouli (salad of bulgur, tomatoes, and parsley)
Healthy Fats: olives, dip with olive oil on top, nuts, or cheese
Protein: hummus, falafel, makhluta (mixed whole grains with lentils), hard boiled eggs, or meat kebab
Vegetables: Syrian chopped salad, shâmiyât (toasted flatbread salad), kabiss, (Syrian pickled vegetables), any vegetable-based dip, or fresh vegetables for dipping
Fruit: kompot (dried fruit salad with yogurt) or fresh and/or dried fruit with optional sweet hummus
Beverage: water, unsweetened tea, or black coffee
Makhluta (mixed whole grains and lentils) is available by itself in small, medium, or large tubs; the large has a "bottomless" option. In the Healthy Plate combo, it counts as either a grain or a protein.
Kompot (dried fruit salad with yogurt)
Here is one example of a healthy plate in flat paper. This page offers multiple styles of reusable healthy plates.
Foodies often travel to find interesting foods. Explore some of the best towns, restaurants, and food trucks.
Eat Wisely Rutledge is a program similar to Eat Healthy Omaha described in "The Discovery of a New Dish" and the notes for "Another Expression of Art." EWR has a special subset of guidelines for food trucks to accommodate their limited menus. Those serving healthier food get the best spots (near entrances, exits, crossroads, or restrooms) at events. They also gain access to EWR's food science department and labs. They can upload their schedules and menus to an app that helps customers find healthy food fitting their dietary plans. Food trucks are ranked based on how many points they score: Healthy (90+ points), Helpful 70-89 points), Average (30-69 points), Unhelpful (11-29 points), or Indulgent (10 points or less). Those specializing in single foods or food types tend to score the poorest, unless they only sell healthy things; more diverse menus have an advantage.
Qualifications (current ones are italicized):
* Sources some Vermont-grown ingredients or products
* Uses some organic, pastured, or otherwise naturally produced ingredients
* Uses at least one healthy cooking method (grilling, steaming, etc.)
* Does not sell fried or other very fatty foods
* Serves fresh fruits and/or vegetables
* Serves at least one live, probiotic item (yogurt, kombucha, etc.)
* Serves at least one whole grain item
* Offers some sort of Healthy Plate
* Offers healthy, prosocial food for sharing
* Offers some allergy-friendly items (nut-free, dairy-free, Top 8-free, etc.)
* Offers at least one sugar-free, caffeine-free beverage (water counts)
* Does not sell sodas or other artificial, sugary drinks (not counting real juices)
* Does not sell processed, sugary desserts (not counting fresh fruit)
* Meets at least one special dietary feature (low-calorie, gluten-free, halal, etc.)
* Has some healthy items at affordable prices
* Offers a choice of serving sizes
* Provides a calorie count for each item
* Labels items that qualify as healthier choices in some program(s)
* Has a nutritionist or dietitian consulting on the menu and/or recipes
* Bonus points for each category where "most or all" menu items meet criteria that require only "at least one" or "some" items
* Categories that list multiple options, like "fresh fruits and/or vegetables" get points for each occurrence listed
Labeling programs such as Healthier Choice or Nutritionist Approved help people find better food. Healthy Choice has various labels to indicate specific features in food. Food for Life promotes a plant-based diet through healthy recipes. However, not all labels are reliable.