Thursday, March 27, 2008

Please Pass the Peace

A good meal is one of the most pleasurable activities of man. It nourishes, satisfies, and puts man in a peaceful mood; where a smile and a gentler disposition is the result of a dish exquisitely prepared and elegantly served. This is an insight all chefs have known and all mothers throughout the history of mankind have been practicing. The lack of food due to natural calamities or war is always a tragedy; and seldom, if ever, was food used as an instrument of peace. Not anymore. People from either side of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict are working together, using their best culinary traditions and their deadliest utensils- knives- not to stab nor kill each other, but to create fine meals for a food festival for peace.

These are chefs who belong to the Chefs for Peace association whose members are indifferent to politics, religion or color. They are aware that the distrust and absence of mutual respect between people of these different warring faiths is the fundamental obstacle towards moving forward in the peace process. They realize that culinary practices of Greeks, Turkish, Jewish and Palestinians have more similarities and borrow from each other; and it is in the interest in food and culinary opportunities that will bring people to experience coexistence, mutual respect, and living in peace after being long separated by partisan circumstances. The approach is Peace Meal but effective.

The Chefs for Peace was established in 2001 by an Armenian Christian Kevork Alemian, and the group now boasts of 45 chefs composed of Arabs, Muslims, Israelis, and Christians. The group chose Jerusalem as its base since it is the center of the three monotheistic faiths. They know that no authentic development can take place and no future for their children will evolve unless there is peace in the region. Their focus is on human relations using the common denominator of food and cooking traditions as a venue to communicate, understand and accept. They cook for peace, it is a concept of sharing meals rooted in biblical traditions of breaking bread together. It is share the stew, not shock and awe; it is live in peace not blown to pieces; it is merge and serve, not attack and surge.

This association of culinary professionals hold food festivals for peace several times in a month and are open to invitations from people anywhere in the world. They have yet to experience a failed cook for peace event. Politicians and peace negotiators can learn several things from these chefs, since what they've been cooking up for the last several decades have not been palatable to the Middle Eastern states and communities. The difference lies in both the ingredients and intentions. Using weapons of destruction will not build confidence but fear, and an intent to take versus an intent to share will surely be met with a hostile response. These will lead to a raw deal, not to a good meal.

Why this formula of the chefs hasn't dawned on the Heads of State of powerful nations and warring states is beyond comprehension. Perhaps the future of mankind will be saved if all heads of state were themselves cooks or chefs. Then maybe we can have better slogans like "Make soups, not nukes".As it is, the problem with these heads is that they only know how to cook up schemes that will further the interest of their friends and cronies; stir up wars in other countries through manipulation and intrigue and take advantage of the chaos for their own ends; and serve lies and lip service to cover their tracks. Somebody please pass them the peace!



Kim said...

great post Durano...
I always look forward to reading your stories...
I think the whole concept of peace through food and cooking is so creative !!!
and reminds me of a favourite show of mine called the iron chef....

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hello Kim,

I watch the Iron Chef whenever I'm at home and not moving about in other countries. I like the way they dramatize the cooking, the sampling and the judging. And I like the food that they prepare and how well the presentation is done.

The food for peace program is one that we had asked the Unicef and the UNFP to sponsor in selected locales and countries. These people of the Chefs for Peace are really committed to working for peace and have established a strong bond among themselves based on their belief in this concep; considering their nationalities and backgrounds,it's almost a miracle.

It's amazing how much in common they have. If only their country's leaders could have this kind of understanding and acceptance. Well, we just have to keep trying. Thanks for dropping by. Take care. :-)-- Durano, done!

Debbie said...

That's great, peace through cooking and food. What a concept. Don't let the terrorists get wind of this, they will probably blow everything up.

Debbie Hamilton
Right Truth

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Debbie,

I'm LMAO on your comment. The terrorists probably know about this already and if they blow it up. I hope I'm not there. :-)

Also, if they ever do that, I wish they would let people finish eating, I don't want all that good food mixed with gunpowder, bits of metal and human flesh. Ugh!

Now I can't tell whether your comment is in agreement to the concept or is part of your trademark witty sarcasm. I hope you can clarify. :-)--Durano, done!

Zhu said...

Interesting as well! Never heard of it... but the idea is awesome. The concept is innovative - if only politics could follow!

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Zhu,

It is a great concept, one that is deeply rooted in their common traditions. What better way to establish acceptance than in beginning with what both can agree with in a spirit of sharing, and breaking bread in peace?

They have been successful so far and are willing to carry on and increase their adherents for peace's sake.

I share your wish about politics following this course. --Durano, done!

Kim said...

I agree Durano
if only the leaders had the same enthusiasm as the chefs for peace..
maybe they should be sent to cooking schools :)
My son does a very good imitation of the voice overs on the Iron Chef :)
he has me in stitches most of the time :)

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hello Kim,

Your son does imitations? Wow! Does he have any interest in show business? :-)

I don't know when a new breed of politicians will emerge from this confusing and troubled world. Normally they start out quite good but then get tainted and trapped by the systems of corruption and old boys club mentality. Then power and greed and indifference take root.

Maybe the Chefs for Peace must be made a global event and must generate membership and adherents on a faster basis; say through blogging among other things.They need more exposure and mileage for what they do, and funds too. Give my regards to your son, he may be a future Robin Williams... He's getting divorced by the way after 19 years of marriage.--Durano, done!