So, these are some of the fabulous people we cooked with in the kitchen container during the past weeks in Marseille. We decided to let them speak for themselves. All we wanted to know was: Why are you here tonight?
“I am the president of the Association of the Comores in Marseille. I have been in Marseille now for 34 years. Here, especially in the quarter of La Belle de Mai, there are many migrants from the Comores, because it used to be a French colony. Succcesful integration means to me to learn how to see the country through the eyes of the other people. I love to eat and to share our culture. My favourite recipe is bananas with coconut milk. I believe, cooking together helps to build peace in the world.”
“Cooking in this travelling kitchen is great, because it is such a wonderful opportunity to bring people together. This is real integration. Moreover, I have never cooked Sudanese food before. Me and my husband, we have travelled a lot, for example through Senegal and Vietnam. We are curious to know how other people live, cook and eat.
In Marseille I work in a company at the harbour that ships containers. Everyday I see they come and go, but I always just regarded them as a symbol of commerce. Sometimes you even read terrible stories in the news, about refugees who were found hiding in a container, risking their life in order to get to the UK. But now I will look at all the containers with a different feeling and remember this beautiful cooking evening we had here.”
“We Afghans like food very much, I would say we are foodies – and so I am. There is a lot of famous food in Afghanistan, like Kabuli Palau. Europeans love our food, I guess. But you eat it in a different way, with knife and fork. Here we’re all cooking together – and that is connecting people.”
“Tonight we are cooking my recipe Dama – with meat, onion, tomato and oil. It is a very common food in Sudan. We also eat Aseeda, a porridge made from flour and water and we usually eat it with our hands. I am really happy to be here with the French people, and also to be in this kitchen. At the place where I live, we are sharing a kitchen with four people and we cook Sudanese food very often – but normally we don’t have any European guests. In Sudan, when we have many guests at the house, we wear our best clothes. This is why I put on my suit tonight. It is a sign of respect. I really like to introduce my traditional food and also my ideas to people from other countries. Look at all these people, they can enjoy Sudanese food now! In this way you get to know a different culture.
You want to know how I came to France? I have been in Marseille for nine months now. I came across the Mediterranean Sea with the boat. It was very dangerous. The machine of the boat broke and we were about to die. But the Italian people came and took me and my friends to their boat. Before I left my country, I was cleaning in a hotel and then I was working at the registration at a hospital, taking care of the patients. After the war in Sudan, I could not be happy there anymore. The problem continues, continues, continues…”
“In Eritrea we eat red sauce, salad, fish and chicken. I like spicy food. Here in France, the food is not so spicy, therefore I make it at home. What I like about french food? The cheese! In Eritrea there is only one kind of it, here are hundreds. I’m tasting it all – one by one. There are so many different cultures, so many different food – today everything comes together.”