The Melting Pot We Live In (And Eat From)
Had you ever realised the recipe of the iconic swedish meatballs were originally not swedish? Some say the recipe was brought in from Turkey. Surprising? Well, no, not exactly. One of the things The Netherlands is famous for are tulips. Not just due to the flowers we sell globally, but also because Tulip Mania is widely cited as the first economic bubble to burst. Where did these colourful flowers originally come from? That’s right: Turkey again. Staying in The Netherlands, one of the best selling Dutch artists of the past decades, Marco Borsato, started his career by importing Italian songs, translating them into Dutch and score instant hits.
Potatoes, such a native staple of many north-western european countries (yes, think chips, french fries, mash and bratkartoffeln)? Brought to Europe by the Spanish from Latin America. Or maybe, like me, you have been astounded by the striking similarity between the italian ravioli and tortellini, one of Poland’s national prides the pierogi, the german maultaschen and their relatives in the far east: dim sum.
These are just a relatively random sample of the many similarities we share with our fellow humans from around the globe. Brought on by migration streams caused by all sorts of reasons, from adventure and discovery to the quest for safety or a better life and everything in between and around that. And maybe also brought on by climatic condition that are favourable to certain kinds of crops and resulting in a certain kind of nutritional need.
My point is, wether it’s the Brexit discussions in Britain and Europe, the propensity of certain dutch politicians to turn The Netherlands into a tax haven, any kind of war: we are focusing so much on differences between us and them. No matter how artificial the boundaries of us are constructed from imagined shared values and historic variations. We should focus more on what we have in common. What connects us. What binds us. Especially in Europe and the EU. We have so much shared history, shared interests, shared foods, shared culture. Beautiful buildings, low skies, high mountains. People.
Have a meat ball. And some potatoes. Decorate your home with tulips. But even more: talk to each other. Person to person. You might meet a friend.