I never met Daniel Saraga.
Which, when you think about it, is actually kind of surprising. Toronto may have a population in the millions, but it often feels very small indeed.
When you’ve grown up here, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll find something in common with other Torontonians of the same age. Maybe you went to the same ski school / swim class / day camp / youth group / summer job / meetup group / whatever, or you both know someone who did, or maybe you just have enough interests in common to end up in similar social circles.
I only knew Daniel through his blog, The Haggis and The Herring, a tribute to his cross-cultural marriage and family – he’s the herring, and his wife Meredith is the haggis. I’d stumble across his blog from time to time in my searches for Moroccan or Israeli dishes, or spot his posts on other blog-related sites… and when I joined the Secret Recipe Club a year ago, there was Daniel again, always ready to offer encouragement and advice to his fellow members.
So while I may have never met Daniel, I was still deeply saddened by the news that he passed away very suddenly a few weeks ago, leaving behind his wife Meredith and their two (soon to be three) children.
We may not have met, but we lived in the same city, went to the same restaurants, celebrated the same holidays, and shared the same love of food. Even online, his kind and generous spirit shone through, in his willingness to share his knowledge and experience, in his openness in sharing his culinary mistakes along with his triumphs, and in the many anecdotes about family and friends that fill his blog.
Maybe that’s why his passing at an all-too-young age hit so close to home. Or maybe just because it’s a poignant reminder that life should never be put off, because there’s no guarantee that tomorrow will come.
All I know is that my heart broke into a million pieces as I read Meredith’s eulogy to Daniel.
My heart goes out to Daniel’s family – especially Meredith and his brother, who will be carrying on The Haggis and The Herring in his memory, and his children, who May you find strength in the love that surrounds you, comfort in the family you made together, and joy in the memories he’s left behind. He will be missed.
In celebration of Daniel’s life and his contributions to the food blogging community, today is a special Secret Recipe Club reveal day featuring recipes from The Haggis and The Herring. You’ll find links to all the other wonderful recipes recreated by the members at the bottom of the post.
It seemed appropriate to pick a recipe that reflected Daniel’s Jewish roots, so I ended up choosing his recipe for Shakshuka, an Israeli dish of braised eggs in spicy tomato sauce.
It’s a perfect example of the kinds of dishes Daniel shared on his blog – simple, nourishing, flavourful. The kind of food you want to feed your family at the end of a long day, or to your friends as part of a casual dinner full of laughter and stories and fun – in fact, the leftovers don’t keep particularly well, so you’re best off making this when there are enough people around the table to polish it off in one sitting.
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 red hot chile, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 6 eggs
- ½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
- 1 tbsp parsley, chopped
- Heat olive oil in a deep saute pan set over over medium-high heat. Add peppers and onions, and saute for 6 minutes, or until onions are soft and golden. Stir in garlic, paprika and cumin, and continue cooking for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add diced tomatoes and liquid, then reduce heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened.
- Reduce to medium-low, and make five wells in the sauce. Crack an egg into each well, then cover and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked through.
- Remove from heat. Spoon a little tomato sauce onto each egg to cover, then sprinkle with feta and parsley. Serve immediately with warm wedges of pita bread.