But Canadians will tell you that these diminutive treats hold an expanse of flavor and textures: flaky pastry, caramelized crust and a bracingly sweet filling.
Until recently, Syrian cuisine hardly existed in Toronto. With just a few hundred families, the Syrian population was too small to support a restaurant scene. But over the past two years, following the high-profile resettlement of more than 50,000 refugees in Canada, the Toronto area — where over 11,000 of them live — is experiencing the green shoots of a Syrian-food boom.
That there are still any loaves on the factory floor at all — or, for that matter, laborers — has made for what the Italian press has christened a “Christmas miracle.” Amid tough economic times and the bankruptcy of other iconic Italian brands, most recently the hat maker Borsalino, the Melegatti saga is being greeted as a fable.
Reem’s is one of a handful of Arab bakeries in the Bay Area — but it is likely the only one where you’ll find the children’s book “A Is for Activist” on the shelves and an enormous mural of the controversial Palestinian activist Rasmeah Odeh on the wall. Affixed to Ms. Odeh’s kaffiyeh is a button of Oscar Grant III, the young black man killed in 2009 by transit police at the Fruitvale BART station, which looms just across the street. (The story inspired the acclaimed film “Fruitville Station.”)