This is a boat parked at Amsterdam Noord - as regular as any fishing boat, right?
How about this: this boat travelled from Libya to Italy…kind of impressive, I guess.
If I tell you this boat carried more than 500 people from Libya to Italy, would you believe it? Would you be willing to take it? This is the story of the boat.
Between 2015 and 2016 alone, thousands of boats like this one departed north Africa and the middle East to journey to Europe. Some of them luckily arrived but others were not so fortunate, sinking in the Mediterranean ocean - along with the passengers on-board and their dreams. Their stories and dreams are ones we will never get to hear.
But what about those who arrived Europe? They received a label - “refugee”. Being a refugee means protection, but it also means a loss of control over your own life. In the Netherlands, refugees are gathered in different reception centres. Some of them arrive in a camp in Amsterdam. Within the camp, they eat, sleep and make friends with other refugees. Life seems to be ordinary, except for the fact that the environment is totally foreign to them: new languages, food with a different taste, limited social connections, and even more limited chances to make local friends.
A couple of months ago, some friends of mine from Amsterdam started to visit refugees at a reception centre, and had some quality time with them. The refugees came from Eritrea. One day, they took them out grocery shopping to cook the Eritrean’s local food together and have some fun. Friendships were built and lots of stories were shared. One of my friends told me: “at the beginning, I thought I was there to help. At the end, I figured that they did not need ‘my help’. They are people, just like me….only much stronger. All I can really offer is a genuine relationship”.
After the outing, the refugees were moved to processing centres outside of Amsterdam and it became difficult to visit each other.
A few weeks ago, my friends received new information from the Eritreans: they could leave the processing centres and would be resettled to different locations across the Netherlands. Some of them were moved close-by, but others were going to live in locations far away from Amsterdam. Because of this, it is not so convenient for my friends to meet with each other and have fun together. So, a group of them decided to visit the Eritrean friends! My friend was sad because she could not join.
But the next day, my friend unexpectedly received a bottle of Eritrean stew beef and traditional bread as a gift from her refugees friends after a Sunday sermon! She shared the food with me in a park, tasting the delicious beef. I had many questions roaming in my head - how can the food be so amazing and I’ve never heard about it? How can the refugees be so generous to my friend since they have little possession and are just starting to build a new life here? …And…are we becoming more stingy even though we have more than enough in our life? How can we easily forget the fact that all humans are brothers and sisters, as the sages - Jesus and Confucius - stated?
And so: Dao.traveller presents you “Harissa stew beef” to share the story with you. This steak is our answer to the questions: the base of the flavour is Eritrean style, the big portion of beef represents the generosity of the refugees in the story. And we mixed the Eritrean flavour with a Taiwanese twist to remind ourselves: all humans are brothers and sisters. If we mix and mingle with each other, we can make an excellent combination. Furthermore, A bite of Harissa stew beef is the work of two hours of cooking. The aromatic Harissa sauce and beef that melts in your mouth, tells this story - international friendship are like Harissa stew beef: the more time you take with it, the better.
Take your time to taste the story.