Refugees’ cookbook published in the Netherlands


This video series is about Syrian and oriental recipes.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands today:

Cake from Syria, curry from Burma and pastries from Serbia. Four students today will hand over the first copy of the cookbook Dinner with … to Mayor Aboutaleb of Rotterdam.

The four made the book on the basis of recipes they received from refugees in the Netherlands. The result is a book of recipes from six cultures.

But it is also about the refugees themselves. “We wanted to get to know the people behind the recipes,” says student Romy van Deursen.

It was difficult to meet refugees. “We did not get easily into the refugee centers. The management does not admit you because they themselves have their hands full.”

Eventually, the students were allowed to come into a center in Utrecht. There they met among others the Syrian Adnan. He had forwarded his name in the asylum seekers’ center to contribute to the cookbook.

“Adnan showed us pictures of his home. It was bombed and was completely destroyed. That made a big impression on us,” said Eline Brouwer. “He was glad that with the cookbook he could focus his thoughts elsewhere.”

The students took Adnan to a café where they puzzled together on the recipe of a Syrian cake. Brouwer: “We had no interpreter. Adnan barely spoke English. By gestures, we finally arrived at the right recipe.”

The students then made the food item themselves. “We were actually pleasantly surprised. International dishes can be quite spicy. But the cake is sweet.” So the recipe was included in the forty-page book.

The initiators of the cookbook have no contact with Adnan any more. “It is difficult to figure out where he is now,” said Eline. The students are still searching him. “We’d like to offer a personal copy of the book to him.”

The story of Adnan in the cookbook

“I come from a town near Damascus. Not long ago I had to flee, it was unsafe. There were bombings and my village is completely wiped out.

Together with my wife I fled. We arrived in Lebanon, where my wife stayed. I traveled to the Netherlands.

My children are now all safe in Europe, including Sweden and Austria. Only my wife is still in Lebanon. When she will be able to come to Europe is uncertain.”

With its agreement with Turkey to seal borders, the European Union is trampling elementary principles of international refugee law underfoot: here.

Idomeni, Lesbos, Calais … every day one sees pictures that for decades one could not have imagined in Europe: refugees, including families with small children, living in improvised tents and burrows, drowning in rain and mud, lacking medication and food. And again and again: closed borders, barbed wire and heavily armed police who attack desperate refugees with tear gas and batons: here.