Tayta’s Secret Ingredient by Amal Abou-Eid. Illus. by Cara King

cover image

For the Harmony Day celebration at school this year, Billy is excited to bring one of his Tayta’s (grandmother) special treats. Tayta is happy to make kaak, a Lebanese biscuit with a very special ingredient. Billy watches as Tayta takes all sorts of strange ingredients from her pantry and wonders which one is the special one. He asks Tayta why she does not use a recipe is and this is her response:

My fingers know what the food should feel like.
My eyes know what the food for should look like.
My nose knows what it should smell like.

While Tayta is preparing the dough, Billy is searching high and low for the secret ingredient but he cannot find it. He helps roll out the dough and makes biscuits shaped firstly like little logs and then joined together to make rings. Tayta finally tells Billy what her secret ingredient is and he realises it is very special. When Billy is asked for the recipe at school he knows that he cannot share it as it will always be missing the secret ingredient.

This warm and engaging story is perfect for Harmony Day as it presents a delightful multicultural experience of both school and home. The watercolour illustrations gently reflect the text and children who have experienced baking with a grandparent will particularly find the images of Billy and Tayta in the kitchen very appealing. A wonderful story to read aloud on Harmony Day.

Themes: Diversity, Harmony Day, Family, School, Recipes, Baking.

Kathryn Beilby