Refugees in Berlin are teaching Germans how to cook their favourite dishes
The influx of refugees to German cities during the 2015 migrant crisis has been a political hot topic since it began, but one project in Berlin is using food to show the benefits of immigration and foster more inclusivity in the local community.
Über den Tellerrand began in 2013 with the aim of breaking down societal barriers to help communities live in harmony, giving native Germans a way to embrace refugees with open arms. People who fled to Europe from mortal danger in their homelands are invited to teach a group of locals how to cook their favourite dishes, empowering them to interact with their new neighbours and show how different cultures can enrich each other.
After the class, everyone sits down to enjoy their food together and converse, highlighting one of the many ways different cultures share similar traits. They also host public celebrations for holidays like Iftar and Nawruz, giving locals another way to enjoy the cultures of their new neighbours.
“We think food is a connecting tool, that generates dialogues between different cultures,” Über den Tellerrand’s Katja Elsner told Lonely Planet. “Everybody can cut vegetables and boil water. Not much language is needed. If you don’t speak the language of the country you are in very well, you can still communicate with hands and feet while cooking. At the same time you can learn the language during the cooking process.”
In addition to their monthly cooking classes in Berlin, Über den Tellerrand also has a mobile kitchen fitted inside a shipping container which they take on the road to share the experience in other cities, which will be hitting the open road in April. They also have 36 active satellite projects in cities like Munich, Hamburg, Cologne, Bielefeld and Freiburg, offering activities from urban gardening to beekeeping.