When is rice more than just rice?
I’m convinced I never fully appreciated rice until I came to Calais. Here I have seen people make magic happen with the bags of rice included in our food packs. When they can get the right spices, my friend from Yemen makes Mandi while another from Syria opts for Mansaf. The lads I’ve met from Sierra Leone cook jollof rice together using the tomato puree we provide, and the Iranians make Tahdig using the crisp rice taken from the bottom of the pot.
But my favourite by far was the Maqluba. It’s a traditional dish from Palestine and Iraq that consists of rice, meat and vegetables stuffed into a pot that is then flipped upside down as you pray for everything to stay in one place. My friend in Dunkirk gave me a recipe and I made it for the other volunteers in the warehouse. To everyone’s surprise I pulled it off – it was a huge hit!
That’s what I mean when I say rice is more than just rice. It’s an opportunity for so many people from different cultures to feel closer to home.
As well as rice our four-person food packs include other essentials like halal chicken, tuna, vegetables, fruit, oil, milk and spices. An ordinary grocery shop to some, but a taste trip back to your home country if done right.
During the past few months we have distributed enough food packs to feed more than 600 people every week. To help us keep going you can contribute at care4calais.org/donate