Greece gets a taste of Syrian cuisine

first_imgWhen it comes to the refugee crisis, there’s not a lot of positivity to report on, so it’s refreshing to hear about Barshank Haj Younes.The young Syrian Kurd took the opportunity to share a part of himself with Athenians this week as part of the Refugee Food Festival.Created in France and backed by the UN refugee agency in 13 European cities, to mark World Refugee Day on Tuesday 20 June, Younes joined Greek head chef Fotis Fotinoglou to cook for the packed Seychelles restaurant in Athens. Together Younes and Fotinoglou prepared a menu of 14 Greek and Syrian dishes, including hummus, moutabal (a smoky eggplant salad), dakos, tomato and zucchini fritters, Syrian freekeh, and slow-cooked lamb shank and bulgur with chicken marinated in tahini, yoghurt, spices, and cumin.“There’s cumin in everything!” Fotinoglou told Reuters.Customers eat traditional Syrian dishes during the Refugee Food Festival in Athens.While neither of them speak each other’s language fluently, their communication is largely made up of elaborate hand gestures to get through service.Younes is trained in computer engineering, but turned his attention to the kitchen five years ago after fleeing Amuda for Iraq as a way of making money to head to Europe, his sights set on Switzerland or the Netherlands.Having arrived in Greece from Turkey by boat in March 2016, his plans were interrupted when the EU and Ankara enforced a deal to curb the number of refugees heading west.“At times I don’t want to leave [Greece], because I really like the people here, they are very kind,” Younes said. “At other times I want to.”For the 25-year-old, aside from sharing his culture, he hoped his participation in the festival would draw attention to the plight of the thousands of refugees and migrants still stranded in Greece.“[I want to] remind them that there are refugees here, there are still Syrians here,” Younes said. “And I want them to remember that there are Syrians everywhere who are in need,” a sentiment shared by Fotinoglou. “The circumstances which forced [the refugees] to leave behind their homeland, their home, their families, their birthplace – it could happen to any one of us,” he said.“We’re here today to say that in cooking, in the kitchen, there are no differences. We’re all the same, we’re all human.” Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img read more