What would you choose: cooking, eating or helping other people? How about a combination of these three elements? Probably, you have heard a lot about cooking events organized by Laufgelage here in Erlangen. The last one took place in November, the next one is going to be in May. But what often wasn’t mentioned is that we have one more organization that works in a similar area, namely Über den Tellerrand. It was founded a year later than Laufgelage (in October 2013) and covers various types of events throughout Germany. Über den Tellerrand has already published 2 cooking books and organized dozens of meetings, workshops and cooking events. Their main office is located in Berlin and their hash tag, as well as motto, is #maketheworldabetterplate. Their page on Facebook has already more than 10,000 followers and they are not going to stop.
On February 6th my friend and I had a wonderful opportunity to join one of their events, namely “International Menu”. There were not so many people, only 8 (including us), but it wasn’t the number that mattered, it was the spirit. I had an opportunity to try Syrian and Hungarian dishes. The chef from Syria prepared Tabouli for us, a special salad made out of parsley, bulgur, tomatoes, onion and olive oil dressing. The chef from Hungary prepared a real sweet delight: pan cakes with a special filling (see below to find out more). In return I took a small part in preparing the national Ukrainian dish, “Varenyky” (dumplings with mashed potato). I must say it was hard to imagine a more diverse group of people, half of which didn’t speak German that well but, nevertheless, managed to communicate. Only at this occasion could a physicist, a doctor, two linguists, a nanotechnologist, a specialist in medical materials and a few others get together simply to cook a dinner. The whole ‘cooking’ part took us about 3 hours, the whole ‘fun’ part stays with us till now. To create a better understanding of what all this is about, here is an interview with the main organizer of Über den Tellerrand events in Erlangen, Karoline Teichmann.
Hi, Karoline. The “International Menu” was a wonderful event and it would be great to invite more people next time. Could you tell a few words about “Über den Tellerrand” for those who haven´t heard about it yet but would like to join?
Karoline: Über den Tellerrand started in Berlin two years ago. It was found by 4 students and one of them grew up in the same street as I did 😉 The philosophy of Über den Tellerrand is to create a good future for refugees and German people. It is about integration and meeting new friends. Everybody is welcome. In Erlangen we have lots of international students who want to join this project, so it is not only for the integration of refugees but for all people from various countries and cultures who want to live together in peace and friendship.
The main purpose of any event is simply cooking together. Each nation has their special dishes that are unfamiliar to Germans. It is also quite difficult for many international students and especially for refugees to stay away from their countries for a long time. So cooking and eating such traditional meals creates a warm feeling of being at home 😉 Besides, every human being often cooks and eats 😉 So we start the integration by getting to know each other by small steps – through cooking together.
How long are you a member of Über den Tellerrand and how did you find out about it?
Karoline: I started the Über den Tellerrand: Community Erlangen in November 2015. I came to Erlangen in October to start my Master program, so I am also still new in this city. I decided to be a part of Über den Tellerrand because I love this project and its philosophy and I also love cooking and tasting new dishes from all over the world. That’s why I thought it would be wonderful to found this community in Erlangen as well. Since November we have organized two events. And these were two wonderful days. I hope that the community will grow, and that there will be other people who will fall in love with this project and become a part of it.
What is the most enjoyable part in organising a cooking event?
Karoline: The best moment of Über der Tellerrand events, and maybe also of my life, was when I went to a refugee camp and invited them to a baking event that took place on December 6th. I baked some Lebkuchen (German cookies baked during Christmas time and resembling gingerbread) beforehand by myself and went there alone. It was soooo adorable how lovely and thankful the refugees were. I could not communicate with most of them because I don’t speak Arabic but that didn’t matter. It was raining a little bit and we were outside. An older man put his bag on the ground and showed me with his hands and a big smile that I should sit next to him on his bag. Though I brought just cookies for them it felt as if I did something very big. Then a little Syrian girl with hands full of cookies and a big smile all over her face came to me and said the only German word she knew: Danke 🙂 And this was better than any praise I could ever get.
Thank you very much for the interview.
I also interviewd the Hungarian chef Evelin Balog about her experience. You can read it in a few days on meineFAU. Stay tuned.