Twice a month, journalist Anna Gyulai Gaal hosts a dinner party at her Berlin apartment but this is no normal feast — the cooks are Syrian refugees, women who have just arrived to Berlin after making the treacherous journey across the Mediterranean and into Europe.
The women not only provide a necessary social service, sharing the culture of their home country via their cuisine offerings, but also offer vital knowledge for the guests. As the New York Times reports, “Guests mingle with the cooks, hearing about the uprooted lives of people most have only read and heard about in the news: life in the refugee camps, what they left behind in Syria and, what the voyage was like to get to Germany.”
Syrian and Middle Eastern dishes are the cornerstones of the meal – with dishes such as tabbouleh salad, lamb-and-rice-stuffed grape leaves and bazalya, a mixture of minced lamb, beef, peas, carrots and cashews, and the star of the show, a chicken and caramelized onion pie from southern Syria called rgaga (also known as borgaga) – yum!
Reflecting on why she first started the dinners, Ms. Gyulai Gaal says, “I realized one day that the newcomers — I don’t like the word ‘refugees’ — need to interact with locals. Integration can only begin by an initial meeting.”