Taste of Home

Text and photos by Aigerim Marat

My campaign “Taste of Home” celebrates the diverse array of flavours and culinary heritage brought to Europe by migrant communities. From fragrant spices to comforting stews, each dish tells a story of resilience, adaptation, and the enduring connections to one’s homeland.

Food holds significant importance in the migration experience, as immigrants consistently maintain their cultural food practices wherever they go. It serves as a symbolic marker, helping to establish and preserve the boundaries between their homeland and their new environment.

“Whenever I return to Hungary from my home country, my luggage is typically packed with a variety of medicines and foods unavailable here. Even if similar grocery items are found, they always cost two to three times more. I find comfort in preparing traditional dishes when homesickness strikes.” – A., 23 y. o. woman from Central Asia.

“While studying abroad, I always made sure to have sour cream (tejföl), Hungarian paprika, pálinka, and lots of poppy seed packets with me. Somehow, these items brought me comfort in a foreign country.” – C. 29 y.o. woman from Hungary.

Indian curries are now considered one of Britain’s national dishes, and Turkish doner kebabs have become part of Berlin’s street food scene, showing how migration impacts culture. These stories offer insight into the balancing act of preserving one’s culture while adapting to new norms.

“I really like my national food, but I also like to try foods from different cultures and cook them at home. I’m happy that there are more and more oriental restaurants and grocery stores opening up because I enjoy finding new flavours to try out.” – R., 26 y.o. man from Hungary.

Integration is a two-way street. While we often focus on the way that migrants pick up the traditions of their new home, newcomers bring new foods, new ideas, and new traditions that are often adopted by the receiving society.

The complex relationship between immigration, identity, and food highlights how culinary traditions are as vital as language and religion in shaping a person’s identity. Food acts as a profound connection to one’s origins, encapsulating memories and emotions from childhood. This cultural significance underpins the challenges and dilemmas migrants face, particularly in places like Hungary, where access to international ingredients has historically been limited. The adaptation of culinary traditions in new environments often leads to vibrant exchanges and the emergence of new culinary landscapes, marked by aisles of oriental grocery stores and immigrant-owned restaurants that become spaces of cultural connection and understanding.

Furthermore, “Taste of Home” sheds light on how food facilitates the process of integration and identity formation for migrants. By engaging with both traditional dishes from their homeland and the culinary practices of their new environment, migrants navigate a path towards creating new, hybrid identities. This dual engagement with food not only helps in preserving cultural heritage but also in fostering connections with the local community, thereby playing a crucial role in the broader narrative of migration and cultural exchange.

But my campaign goes beyond the gastronomic delights. It’s a call to action for political engagement and empowerment. As we celebrate the diverse array of flavours and culinary heritage that migrants bring to Europe, we must also recognize the power of our voices in shaping the societies we live in. The upcoming EU elections on 9th of June present a crucial opportunity for all of us, migrants and locals alike, to influence policies that promote inclusion, diversity, and equality for all.

Voting is not just a right; it’s a way to ensure that our diverse voices and stories are heard and considered in the decision-making processes that affect our lives. By participating in the EU elections, we can help shape a future that values and embraces the richness of our cultural diversity. Let us come together, not only to savour the flavours of diversity but also to strengthen our collective voice through our votes.

Together, let’s build a more inclusive future for all by making our voices heard at the EU elections on 9th of June. Your vote is a step towards a society that celebrates cultural diversity in every aspect, including the wonderful world of culinary heritage that “Taste of Home” seeks to highlight.