In the last few months, I’ve been getting involved with a fantastic organization here in Madrid called Madrid For Refugees (for more information on their work, check out this post on the first cooking class I took with them). MFR has a branch called Chefugee that works specifically with refugee chefs to help raise funds and awareness of their experiences. A few weeks ago, I took another class with a chef named Valentín who taught us how to make two Venezuelan dishes, pan de jamón and hallacas.
Valentín was an excellent teacher and entertainer and the class served as further proof of how naturally people can connect over delicious food. The students hailed from Spain, Ireland, the Netherlands, Mexico, and the US (just me). Valentín’s assistant was a refugee from Mali who, at the time, was observing Ramadan and was still kind enough to help out in the kitchen. Despite our different backgrounds, I left feeling as though I’d made meaningful connections with my fellow students, at one point joking about hiding things in Valentín’s food and the vulgarity of a Mexican idiom about “badly dressed tamales” (don’t ask…). And despite different tastes, we all agreed that the food we worked together to make was delectable.
Cooking classes in Madrid aren’t going to solve the worldwide refugee crisis. I know that. But this initiative creates an opportunity for a powerful exchange of skills and knowledge about shared passions in a way that benefits some of the most marginalized and disenfranchised members of the community. It has been a privilege to be a small part of this organization’s activities.
To read the short blog post I wrote for Madrid For Refugees, check it out here!