Today we are talking about food, cultures and social inclusion. We are talking about the power of food to create knowledge of other cultures and to facilitate relationship. It is wonderful to see people eating with curiosity to other kind of food and to go through difference.
I was very lucky to be part of a wonderful project: “Facewall Days” that was going on in Prato from 17 to 19 September. Three days of events around the exhibition facewall: 100 possible linked worlds exhibition that you will be able to see until October 15 at the Textile Museum in Prato (Tuscany) Museo del Tessuto.
Pan di Ramerino was in charge of organizing a Multi-ethnic food catering.
This was just perfect for me and I joined immediately this great experience. Ethnic groups proposing their culture through food just too interesting for me: meeting them, exchanging ideas, deciding what to offer, arranging the set up of the table. I loved it! I truly believe that the action of eating together is lowering barriers. Talking about tomatoes with Daria is like talking about chinese mushrooms and tofu with Xiao Mei from Weng Chou restaurant who proposed her food for one of the Facewall’s evenings. The first time we met, me and Xiao Mai, we were able to talk thank to Alessia who was translating for us, this meeting ended with a sincere hug and a bag with an enourmous fresh tofu’s cube, chinese vegetables and a new recipe for me and for you!!!!
Tofu with Chinese green vegetables
Tofu is a typical ingredient of Chinese cooking, it is totally vegetal and it is made by coagulating soy milk and pressing the resulting curds into soft white blocks. Tofu is very nutritious and it is a rather bland tasting product that easily absorbs the flavours of the other ingredients, you often cook tofu with spices or vegetables.
This delicious recipe is from Chen Xiao Mei from Wang Chao restaurant and you can well combine it with white rice.
- White tofu
- chinese cabbege
- pak choi
- laojiu or soy sauce
Mix in a pan oilseed with loijiu or soy sauce and add a pinch of salt. Warm it up and add the tofu cutted in little cubes. Brown and flavour it, add cutted vegetables and leave it on fire for about 8 minutes so that vegetables stays crunchy.
Ravioli Liu that took care of the food for another day of the exhibition, is a little restaurant with a yellow old sign and it is well known in Prato. When you enter the door of this restaurant you see a mix of different type of clients. Their special dish are the many kind of dumplings (ravioli) they are able to make. For our evening they cooked 1.200 different kind of dumplings: beef, chicken, pork, fish and vegetables.They have prepared little egg rolls, chinese vegetables, rice with peppers and chicken of which I grabbed the recipe. I asked for a dumpling recipe but Xiu Min Hong said that for italians is too difficult to make dumplings…everybody was crazy about chinese food and in less then one hour everything was finished.
GONG BAO, Spicy chicken cubes
If you don’t have a wok in your kitchen this could be the right moment to get one and cook with the right pan this typical chinese plate with chicken and peppers that Xue Min Hong from Ravioli Liu shared with us.
- 0,3 of chicken breast
- fresh onions, peppers
- chili sauce, salt, soy sauce, ½ stock cube
Cut the chicken breast in cubes (1cm), warm the seedoil in the wok and add the chicken cubes until they get gilded, once they are cooked put them on a side.
Put some other seedoil into the wok, and warm it with a spoon of chili sauce, then add the ingredients following this order: fresh onions, peppers and a little bit of water. A pinch of salt and half stock cube, the soy sauce and at the end add the cooked chicken so that it will absorb all the flavors.
Delicious was also the food proposed by Mek Tessema from Kaldi’s Kaffè, a little ethiopian food restaurant in the historical center of Prato. Mek has proposed scented dishes from her beautiful land that she has cooked: beaf cous cous, vegetarian bulgur and red lentils with injera, the ethiopian bread.
I have a bond with this land and everytime I eat injera I am surrended by many memories and I start to smell the street of AddisAbeba, I hear musics and songs and I feel like dancing. I went to AddisAbeba twice and I was absolutely bewitched by this country and the people.
Mek presented me a recipe that I am now sharing with you and I promise that I will also try to bring those falvors in my home…even if it won’t be easy. In case of failure, when I will be in need of memories I will go over Mek in her beautiful, warm and cosy Kaldi’s Kafè.
Spicy Red lentils from Ethiopia
The two ingredients that probably are not in your kitchen and that you need to get are: berberè, a typical ethiopian spicy mix, cardamom powder and teff, the cereal used to make injera, the ethiopian bread that it is used to bring the food to the mouth while eating with your hands.
If you are not able to find teff, Mek suggests to use the sorghum grain.
- ½ kg of red lentils
- 1 red onion
- 400gr of Peeled tomatoes
- 1 spoon of Berberè
- cardamom in powder
Cut the onion in slices and brown it in olive oil, when ready add a little bit of water and end the cooking. Add berberè, the peeled tomatoes and leave it on small fire.
Put the lentils and cook for about 10 minutes, no more. It is important that the lentil stays hard. Add the salt, the oregano, the rhyme and a pinch of cardamom powder.
Let’s make the Ethiopian bread: Injera
- ½ Kg of flour 00
- 1 tea spoon of Teff
- 1 tea spoon of sourdough (¼ of brewer yeast cube)
- 1 glass of lukewarm water
Melt the sourdough in lukewarm water, add the teff, the four, a pinch of salt and mix everything very well, the dough has to stay liquid. Put it in a bowl, cover with a wet cloth and leave it to ferment for about 8/10 hours.
warm a nonstick pan and pour a little bit of mixture, in the same way as you would make a crepes, when you start to see little bubbles that are giving the typical injera spongy consistency, cover and leave it cooking for about 3 minutes. You don’t have to turn it, you cook it only on one side. Once it is cooked put the injera on a cloth and leave it to cool down.
Prepare the injera on a place and put in the middle the messer wot with a little injera roll that you will use to take the sauce and finally taste it. Melkam Megeb! That means: Enjoy your meal!
Food get people together, is encouraging curiosity and opens to new flavors. Offer food is a simple and very important action, you can do it with humility, with respect or regality and in this simple action, in this exchange, glances are getting in contact and this is the beginning of one, two, three, hundreds stories.