THE GREAT CHALLENGE: HOW FOOD CAN ATTRACT PEACE AND SOLIDARITY: RESTAURANT GINGER PEOPLE AND FOOD IN AGRIGENTO
Great challenges often start fighting against all odds: and in many cases, solidarity and union can help facing them.
Few days ago, I was in Agrigento with Aregai Association (Italian no-profit Association involved in disseminating a new concept of sustainability, based on an innovative assessing model called LICET) to celebrate the winners of the #BezzoPrize, which has been validating sustainability engagement in catering services since 2017. Bezzo Prize 2018 has referred to the ‘potential’ Italian Capitals of Culture (those towns which enrolled for the bid but were unsuccessful). The competition was really hard and the paticipants were selected in compliance with a strict list of the LICET 38 criterias. Amongst the towns which ran for Bezzo Prize 2018, #Agrigento (Sicily) was a true success with two restaurants on the podium.
The golden medal has gone to Ginger People&Food, as a virtuous example of how good practices of solidarity and integration, food processing and recycle can represent a true success. Ginger is part of a cooperative, Al Karub, which includes a farm and a new entrepreneurial initiative, concerning the repopulation of the Sicilian Black Bee. And not only. Ginger has a black soul, under the name of #Mareme Cisse, the Senegalese chef (woman) who astonished us with her hands and heart. She has re-discovered #Sicilian- Arabic food recipes and has re-interpreted them in a modern, elegant menu, which changes every month. At Ginger Food&People no pork is cooked, in compliance with Mareme’s Muslim faith. We have seen restaurants guests appreciate this amazing combination of African and Mediterranean cultures and enjoy the waiter’s story telling.
Mareme has come from Senegal more than ten years ago and brought all that knowledge that African women have about food and traditions. Nevertheless, she has something more: she is creative and cooks for making people feel like brothers. She left behind her original family and faced a new life in Sicily, always cooperating with the local community, for a common benefit.
Her food conveys a strong message, also shared by Alfredo Maiolese, the President of the #European Muslim League (a League committed to the promotion of moderation and integration of people): food can be a major reason for wars, but also the first catalyzer for peace. ‘ If we are able to sit people around a table and strive to create, together, a new recipe respectful of all creeds and diversities, of all needs and expectations we would have a powerful tool to pursue and share peace in the world’.
Ginger’s experiment is targeting that goal….It is not simple, nevertheless Mareme is showing every day that it is possible, if you have the hands to do and the heart to believe in it.