BY EYAD AOUN
I was inspired to write this piece after watching a TED Talk by Claudia Roden. She talked about an activity she did in London and the impact it had on her. I interpreted her "activity" as a message to increase mutual awareness in the people around the world and show them the power of a single task to bring them together.
Illustrated by Gagani Dewundara Liyanawaduge
In times of war and separation, people often find extraordinary ways to overcome the ugliness of the world. Now, in an era where every person is separated from the other by hundreds and even thousands of miles, we find ourselves in need of communication to strengthen our relationships. Events in the past have led to leaving people their place of residence and traveling to a whole new place with different culture and scenery, whether to avoid torture, bankruptcy, or loss of loved ones. However, these events never incinerated the essence of communication between people. They always find ways to connect, and one of these powerful ways is food.
People used to exchange recipes as a unique method of communication. They exchanged them as a sign of remembrance. They visited each other and crossed hundreds of miles to gather, eat, and have fun, then leave a recipe behind as a souvenir. This act strengthens the bond between cultures. A simple act, yet in the long run, can lead to mixing up between the origin of recipes. For instance, people of one culture would start cooking a foreign recipe every day. And surprisingly enough, many people liked it, so it became popular. The power of this mere act will be observed with the passing of years, when this dish is being cooked across many generations—until it may seem to one generation that its origin came from their own culture. Could a gesture of remembrance and attachment unintentionally lead to this immense confusion? Perhaps. However, people continued doing it to connect in a way no other creature can do or imitate.
"[People] always find ways to connect, and one of these powerful ways is food."
The urge to try new things is always present inside people. The majority of us feel either excited or afraid or both when they try something strange to their routine. People treat this exchange as a chance to break out of their monotonous routines, as well as their comfort zones, and explore something new, something that brings them a taste of an alien world. They may even like the experience so much that they would turn it into a vocation. Collecting recipes to have a glimpse of other diverse and different cultures is something that would enrich an individual’s mind and alter their view of the world substantially. This is because food can be represented as a form of cultural reflection and identity; however, that’s a topic for another time.
We were created to communicate and establish bonds while crossing bridges between each other’s cultures. Finding ways to fulfill this prophecy is necessary to thrive as the human race. And as Coco Chanel once said, “In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.” The methods of communication we use in our everyday lives illustrate how different we are from other creatures, thus igniting this feeling of uniqueness and irreplaceability. Consequently, our role is to utilize the tools we invent to break the ice between each other—and what better way to use than exchanging a recipe?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
EYAD AOUN • EGYPT
Living in a foreign country with mixed cultures for the first 15 years of his life, Eyad was able to develop a vocation for crossing bridges between cultures. He pictures himself as an intellectual person who utilizes his knowledge for the greater good. He always emerges in opportunities that enrich his knowledge and experience. Whenever he is free, he reads all kinds of books, especially novels that mimic historical revolutionary events. Currently lives in Egypt.