One of the most intimate things you can do with someone, is invite them to your house to eat. Now, imagine inviting over 30 people from all over the world, not only to eat, but to cook as well. That’s exactly what happened last weekend, when we were invited to take part in an ‘Eat and Greet,’ here in Berlin. The cuisine of the night was from Nigeria and Ghana. It was amazing to see how everyone came together to share this experience.
There were literally people here from all different countries. It was beautiful to see everyone coming together. Even coming from New York, I don’t think I’ve ever seen such an integration of cultures as I experienced under this one roof. We met people from Belgium, Mexico, Nigeria, and all the countries in between. I honestly did not know that Berlin would be so diverse. Everyone here for the most part spoke English as a second language, and I felt that this really put everyone on the same level.
I, like many people here, had never tasted this cuisine, let alone cooked it. The thing I loved seeing the most was people making Fufu. This is done through pounding cassava and plantains while adding water. It was probably the most labor intensive dish. Interestingly enough there were people here who had never seen a cassava or plantain before!
I thought that was a banana!?!
This was a dish I can’t say I knew, but it’s sure similar to what I eat back home in Puerto Rico. We mash different potato-like root vegetables together like malanga, yuca, and yautia to make ‘vianda.’
I was tasked with the very difficult assignment of cooking fried plantains! Just kidding, this was probably the easiest dish. I was curious to learn how Nigerians made them, but was surprised to learn that they cook it the same way my mother does. You simply cut the sweet plantain in a 45 degree angle, mix it into a bowl with water and salt, then fry it in a pan with cooking oil until it gets brown. It’s amazing to see how people on the other side of the world can literally be eating the same exact dish as you. The mentality that we are all so different starts to slip away.
It took quite a while to cook all the entrees, but once we were finished we were able to dig in, literally. They explained to us how traditionally you eat this food with your hands. First you serve the Fufu in a bowl, then you pour soup on it along with the rice and anything else you’d like.
I love how a lot of people embraced eating with their hands. However, all the Africans ate with forks and knives. I think they got a kick out of that more than anyone!
We cooked, ate, and shared stories all night. It was truly an experience I’ll never forget. In regards to the different nations in one room, someone said, “this is what heaven will look like.” Regardless of what you believe, I think a universal truth is that we all belong to the human race, and that we have more similarities than differences. If we would all let our guards down and open up more, I think more amazing things like this night could happen.