Last week a unique cookbook was launched in Cork called The Global Kitchen. This ‘little gem’, published by Omah Printing celebrates the wealth and diversity of recipes and cooking ideas brought to our shores by refugees and asylum seekers. The launch, at the Vision Centre, North Main Street, was a wonderfully colourful affair. Several of the refugees wore their traditional costumes. Rebecca and Sarah Kasule from Uganda did a traditional dance of welcome to the irresistible beat of the African drumming group.
During the past few years several hundred refugees have arrived in Ireland. When one learns of the extraordinary lengths that many asylum-seekers go to, to reach our shores, one is filled with awe. Would any of us have the courage to endure the danger and deprivation that they have suffered? Desperate situations call for desperate measures and for some at least there is absolutely no alternative but to head off into the unknown and hope for the best. Imagine what it must be like having suffered months or sometimes years of terror to eventually reach safety and then be treated with hostility.
In 2000 NASC was set up in Cork as an Irish immigrant support centre. There the refugees can find a safe welcoming haven where they can meet, celebrate their own culture, learn about Ireland, share experiences and develop the language skills needed to communicate. When we’re away from our native country, few things are more comforting than the food ‘that our Mammy used to make’.. Many of our happiest childhood memories are connected to food and the meals we shared around the kitchen table with family and friends. The refugees who arrived in Cork spent many hours reminiscing about the food of their homeland, searching for familiar ingredients. They were thrilled to find The Russian Shop, Iago and Mr. Bell’s stall in the Cork Market. Sometimes all they could do was look. Ego’s Intercontinental Store in Barrack Street and All in One Ventures in Shandon Street were also a source of longed-for flavours to enable them to reproduce the authentic dishes of their native countries. Sometimes they pooled their resources to buy some produce and familiar spices and cooked together and then shared their meals with their Irish friends who loved the new exciting flavours.
Gradually the idea of a cookbook was born I was delighted when I heard about this project, a brilliant way for asylum-seekers, refugees and immigrants to share their culinary knowledge, cooking together and testing recipes with Irish ingredients. The Global Kitchen, the result of several months of experimentation, is a little gem, an exciting and eclectic collection of favourite recipes, some honed and perfected from
taste memory, others reproduced with the help of loved ones at home, a perfect present for foodie friends. Because of our turbulent history, many people in Ireland have real empathy with asylum-seekers and refugees. We remember with gratitude the welcome and opportunities offered to numerous Irish people in the past by other nations, particularly America. It is the test of a mature and civilised nation that it can react with generosity to those less fortunate. Irish society needs to be able to respond to the possibilities and challenges that an intercultural society poses.
This exciting little cookbook with recipes from more than 18 countries gives us the opportunity to learn and to share and to taste. Food transcends all boundaries, unites all colours and creeds. Once we share a meal together a bond is formed. The refugees who contributed to this book have had fun working on this endeavour. Shops selling ethnic ingredients in Cork have enabled them to reproduce the authentic flavour of their homeland many thousands of miles away from home. All the money raised from this project will go to support NASC, to enable them to provide extra services, free legal service, internet access, language classes, music groups, friendship….. Seek out The Global Kitchen in bookshops, (£9.50) or contact NASC, St. Mary’s of the Isle, Sharman Crawford Street. Tel. 021 431 7411, Fax 021 431 7402,
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website:http://homepage.eircom.net/-iisc Here are just a few of the many tempting recipes in the book.
This recipe came from Silly Ashu from Cameroon now living in Cork.
450g (1lb) self-raising flour
50g (2oz) butter
100g (3½oz) castor sugar
½ teasp. grated nutmeg
groundnut oil to deep fry.
Rub the butter into the flour.
Beat the eggs, sugar and nutmeg together. Stir in the flour, turn out and knead the dough on a floured board. Roll it out thinly and cut it into ribbons. Slice the ribbons across so that you are left with strips of pastry that are about the length of your finger. Cut a small opening in the middle of each ribbon and pull one end through it so that it is bow-shaped. You needn’t be too fussy about this; the important thing is
to make the chin-chin into interesting shapes. Deep-fry them in small batches until golden brown and leave to cool. They will keep fresh for 2-3 weeks if stored in an airtight container.
Khorchani Sahbi, a Tunisian chef living in Cork shared some of his favourite recipes.
Brick – Egg in filo pastry
1 sheet of filo pastry, oiled
salt and pepper
½ teasp. harissa
Heat plenty of olive oil in a heavy-based pan Fold the sheet of pastry in two to make a rectangle. Working quickly, break an egg into the middle and season it well, add capers and harissa if you want more punch to your egg. Fold the pastry over the egg making a parcel and pinch the edges to seal.
Slide the parcel into the oil from the plate or board you are working on. Baste the top of the brick with oil as you cook, to set the top. You can deep-fry it if you like but you must use olive oil. Cook until the pastry is crisp but the egg yolk is still runny. Eat it in your hands and keep your head over a plate the first few times that you make it, as it is hard to eat it with dignity! Keep lots of French style bread for mopping up.
Slata Tunis – Traditional Tunisian Salad
2 red peppers
2 green peppers
1 red onion
1 green apple
handful of black or green olives
small tin of tuna in brine, drained
1 hardboiled egg
slices of lemon to garnish
plenty of chopped fresh parsley
Chop everything into small dice about the size of your smallest fingernail and mix well together.
Dress with the juice of a lemon and 30-40 mls of the best olive oil you have, mix well again until everything is coated in oil and glistening. Arrange the salad in a shallow bowl and dress it with flaked tuna and parsley. Alternate slices of tuna and egg around the edges.