The migrant’s kitchen

 For those who have travelled thousands of miles in search of asylum far from their homes, preserving culinary traditions is a way of feeling at home. And at times, finding a job.

You don’t need to go to Naples to eat a decent pizza. From Melbourne to Los Angeles, cooked dough seasoned with tomato sauce and mozzarella has travelled the world, following the pathways traced by Italian immigrants. The pizza is a symbol of gastronomic evolution, brought on by migratory flows. Today, you can eat kebab, Cantonese fried rice or tandoori chicken in every European city. The bagel, which is often associated with New York, was actually brought to the US by the Polish Ashkenazi community; couscous, a favourite dish of the French, comes from North Africa.

For centuries, human beings have been willing to sacrifice everything to find a better life elsewhere, but there is one thing that they never leave behind: their cooking, a complex bag full of ingredients, techniques and recipes. Food is a visceral experience, a means to satisfy our bodies, but it is also a means through which we cultivate our identity. “There is such a thing as ‘food nostalgia’, a desire to keep alive flavours that form our memories and make us feel at home”, noted Italian anthropologist and blogger Alessandra Guigoni.

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