Research Results. Cultural Awareness Through Food
Cultural Awareness & Social Inclusion Through Traditional Food
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What we did
We found out what types of food based events both Ukrainians and Dutch people living in The Netherlands have attended with each other and what they thought of those events. We found out why they liked or disliked them as well as what types of events they would ideally like to attend in the future, and why.
Most Ukrainians report having tried Dutch food since their time in the Netherlands, while only half of Dutch people interviewed have tried Ukrainian food.
Ukrainian perception of Dutch food is that it is fast, easy, and is a junk food style. It isn’t as home-cooked as Ukrainian food. Ukrainians mentioned the preparation of their food, that they take time to do so, whereas Dutch people do not. They talked about the diversity of dishes and ingredients in their cooking, which is lacking in the Dutch kitchen. Finally, Ukrainians clearly noted how Dutch people do not eat so many hot meals as they do.
Interestingly, Dutch people do perceive Ukrainian food in a similar way to Ukrainians - it being home-made and more often being made up of warm meals.
The majority of Ukrainian respondents had not taken part in any food based events with Dutch people. Those who had done so, had been to private homes for a dinner, or similar meals. On the other side, none of the Dutch respondents had taken part in any food based events with Ukrainian people. Having spoken with other sources we may conclude that this is because such events are specifically organised for Ukrainian people, rather than being general food based events for everyone.
Based on the results of the qualitative focus groups, the following ideas were generated and quantitatively validated: (these answer options shown below were those shown to Ukrainian respondents. Those for the Dutch were modified accordingly e.g. Dutch respondents saw ‘...visit a Ukrainian family…’ etc.)
● Family visit: You visit a Dutch family at their house. They cook for you and you all eat together. Then you return the favour at a later date. This can also be done in a group of several families, so they take turns to host. Ukrainians in the Netherlands do not always have their own kitchen because of their living situation, so Dutch people or families can ‘lend’ their kitchens in return for Ukrainian people to cook their food and share their knowledge, recipes etc.
● Tutorial and food sharing cultural big events: Dedicated to sharing recipes, history and culture with traditional foods. Can be also for certain festivals, e.g. Christmas, even if that festival is not current. “Imaginary festival” e.g. cooking a Christmas dinner, pretending it is Christmas so people can see what a typical Christmas day/s is/are like in your country. This could be implemented at a community centre for more people to attend. As well as - hosted at someone’s house, and like the previous idea there would be groups of participants so the hosting cycles around so everyone gets a chance to host and be guest.
● Ukrainians can make video tutorials: Showing how to make certain dishes. Dutch people follow those, make the dish and give those to Ukrainians in shelters, etc. Also to eat those dishes with the Ukrainians, so they can get feedback and learn from each other etc.
● Picnics in parks: this type of events turned out to be interesting for the both Dutch & Ukrainians in the Netherlands. The both target groups think that this is a great way of getting people together outside to eat and mix.
Picnics in Parks, as well the Tutorial and food sharing cultural big events (considering both groups of respondents) have all the potential to be brought forward to future projects.
Picnics are easily scalable events - they can be small or large and can potentially be held anywhere where public green spaces can be found.
Respondents reported the following reasons (keywords) for preferring the format of Picnics in Parks option:
● Outside, nature, fresh air
● Comfortable / relaxed atmosphere
● Fun for children and the whole family to come together with the others and participate in culture sharing events
● Enjoy picnics in general
● Neutral territory
● Don’t like the idea of being in someone else’s house, cooking in someone else’s kitchen
● Don’t like the idea of having strangers in my home
● Some Ukrainians live in a hotel/hostel and so do not have the facilities.
For Ukrainian people the food itself is important, for Dutch people it seems that the event and entertainment elements are possibly more important than the food (according to Ukrainian people).
There is definitely potential to bring these two nationalities together using food and food based events, actively encouraging their cultural participation through Cultural Awareness & Social Inclusion Through Traditional Food. Certainly indoor (Tutorial and food sharing cultural big events zat community centers) and as well outdoor, picnic style events would be most appreciated by both Ukrainians and by Dutch people. This is a chance for the Dutch to explain more about their food culture, participate actively in cultural activities, to show it off, to demonstrate that it is not just fast/unhealthy food. Meanwhile Ukrainians can get to know better the Dutch people, their food and history so as to build a deeper connection with the country in which they currently live, thereby strengthening the cultural integration and participation between the two groups.
The Ukrainian Partners Report
A cultural and creative way to bring Ukrainian and Dutch cultures together to promote cultural participation, solidarity and friendship through food and cooking could be a "Cultural Fusion Cooking Challenge." This challenge would involve a competition where teams of Ukrainian and Dutch individuals would come together to create unique fusion dishes that incorporate ingredients and cooking techniques from both cultures. The event could be held in a public space, such as a community center or food festival, where people can watch the teams cook and taste their creations. The challenge could also be livestreamed online to reach a wider audience.
We conducted a brainstorming session between Ukrainians and foreigners to find out what is currently missing and in what format they would like to get to know each other's food culture better. The group was facilitated by a bilingual moderator who helped overcome any language barriers. During the focus group, participants discussed their current knowledge of each other's food culture, what they would like to learn more about, and what formats they would find most appealing. Cooking classes, recipe sharing, gastronomic tours, etc. have become popular options.
To promote cultural awareness and inclusion, cultural participation, cooperation, and communication between people of different cultural and educational backgrounds, we could develop an online platform that offers cooking classes and resources for Ukrainian and Dutch cuisine. The platform could include instructional videos, recipes, and forums for discussing cooking techniques and cultural traditions. The platform could also offer social features, such as virtual cooking challenges and recipe swaps, to encourage community building and cross-cultural exchange. The platform could be designed to be scalable, so that it can grow and evolve over time as more people join the community, motivating their active cultural participation.
Dutch Bright Future in cooperation with Ukrainian JCI Youth implemented
a Cultural Exploration project to find out, whether the fun environment, created within a cultural project can encourage two different nationalities with common interest in food to come together and promote cultural active participation and cultural dialogue.
We will have more activity on this topic, so stay tuned!