Road to Refuge volunteer Emma Costa shares her new favourite cookbook

Yesterday I was introduced to the truly special cookbook, A Taste From Home, whose recipes are shared by refugees living in Malaysia. It was written by Haris Coussidis in partnership with UNHCR Malaysia with the understanding that food is both a way in which people can come together and a way in which people can maintain a connection to their culture and identity.

The book’s recipes are organised by home countries of the 17 contributing refugees which are Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Palestine, Syria, Irag, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Myanmar.

What makes the cookbook most special is that before each recipe, readers learn the significance of the dish to its contributor which is sensitively and honestly intertwined with stories from their refugee experience.

For example, Helena Asefa, who discusses that learning to make doro wat (chicken stew) is a rite of passage dish in her home country Ethopia, and that she will soon share it with her family who she has not seen in four years when she is resettled with them in Australia.

Common to each story was the idea that food enabled them to feel close to home. These stories were also accompanied by poignant photographs by author and photographer Haris Coussidis , who says she aims to put human face to refugee issues in Malaysia.

I also found it so beautiful that Haris was able to produce the book by being welcomed into the kitchens of each of the refugees who feature in it. For me, their generosity and openness to others really contrasted with their descriptions of having felt unwelcome upon arriving in Malaysia, and what we can witness transpiring the world over.

It really highlighted the ways in which people come together over food to share experiences and listen.

Of course, on top of the beauty of the book itself, I haven’t even mentioned the incredible recipes including Ouzi (Syrian stuffed filo pockets with spiced mints and nut), Tennai sambol (Sri Lanan coconut sambal), and anjero (Somali flatbread), which themselves stand alone as an incredible reason to check out the book.

A Taste From Home is such an incredible way for people to hear the stories of refugees through relating to a shared passion for food. I am looking forward to eating, learning, and sharing with others from it

Fardous, one of the contributors the book, making M'sakhan djaaj
Fardous, one of the contributors the book, making M’sakhan djaaj
Haris A Taste From Home
A Taste From Home”
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Summer Think List

Whether you have days to spend on the beach getting stuck into a book, or just an hour to while-away in air conditioning, Summer is a good time to catch up on reading, watching, and listening to some of the great resources out there. That’s why we’ve created our very own Think List: a resource for you of relevant and engaging pieces to read/watch/listen which we’ve done the hard work of digging up.

Read

This article on The Conversation, about people seeking asylum as Australia’s next wave of entrepreneurs, is the perfect short positive read to get you started and discusses the long term contributions people seeking asylum can make to society.

One of our favourite projects, Behind the Wire, documents the stories of people who have experienced mandatory detention in Australia. All the narratives – of varying lengths – are available to read through the website. One of Road to Refuge’s favourites is Donna’s Story – we’ve also featured Donna in our #WCW series on our Instagram account.  Donna came to Australia in 2000 as a 13 year old  with her family by boat from Kurdistan and is now a lawyer living in Melbourne studying a Masters of International Relations at Melbourne University.

Donna from Behind the Wire
Donna from Behind the Wire

For subscribers of the Saturday Paper, there are a host of relevant articles to delve through in the archives. If you don’t subscribe (yet) but want to dip a toe in, we recommend Children Behind Bars, or the harrowing account of The Death of Khodayar Amini, both detailing how the difficulties facing people seeking asylum rarely end upon reaching Australia.

New York Times Magazine’s The Dream Boat is an older read, but a visceral, lengthy account of a boat journey from Indonesia to Australia.

If you have some time and are looking for a book to get stuck into, we suggest Ben Rawlence’s newly released City of Thorns which follows the lives of nine people living in Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya, or Klaus Neumann’s Across the Seas: Australia’s Response To Refugees: A History.

For those who love poetry – Manal Younas’ collection, Reap, was released at the end of 2015. Some of Road to Refuge’s team were lucky enough to attend the launch and got shivers from Manal’s gutsy powerful performances of her spoken word and the book does well to capture this spirit.

Cover of Manal Younus' book, Reap
Cover of Manal Younus’ book, Reap

Watch

If you’ve only got a moment, we recommend using it to watch a short film – both Nora Niasari’s The Phoenix and Lukas Schrank’s Nowhere Line played at our Film for Thought event in 2015, and we’ve been thinking about them both since.

Mary Meets Mohammed and Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea are two of our go-to documentaries, both of which are available on DVD, and we can’t overlook an old favourite feature film, Bahman Ghobadi’s Turtles Can Fly, from 2005.

In Television, the SBS series Go Back to where you Came From takes Australian families on a reverse journey of a person seeking refuge, season three is available to watch online now.

Clouds Over Sidra
Clouds Over Sidra

Virtual Reality film Clouds Over Sidra follows twelve-year-old Sidra living in the Za’atari camp in Jordan. While the experience is designed to be in 3D, it’s available to watch online, and is a moving piece as a short film alone.

Listen

As a 40 minute jumping in point, Devil’s Avocado: Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Boat People is a great overview of the politics surrounding people seeking refuge in Australia.

For a little more detail – this episode of The Conversation’s Speaking With podcast talks to Shanthi Robertson and Ien Ang on migrants, refugees and Australia’s place in Asia.

For a story to get swept up in, listen to This American Life’s episode 560: Abdi and the Golden Ticket – although centered around Abdi’s journey to the USA not to Australia, this podcast is well worth listening to nonetheless.

This American Life: Abdi and the Golden Ticket
This American Life: Abdi and the Golden Ticket

Happy reading/watching/listening! We’d love to hear what you think in the comments box and if you want to share your favourites, that’d be great too.

Road to Refuge’s Think List will be a seasonal series released in Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring and is aimed a tool and guide for you to engage with the best writing, films and podcasts on people seeking asylum and refugee issues. 

Summer Think List