When you cook for one thousand people in a restaurant, there is a diverse menu and a constant stream of skillets carrying single portions across the line until the food is plated and the skillet returned to the dishwasher.
When you cook for refugees, things look different. Pots reserved for big-batch making of veal-stock in a restaurant are your bread and butter in a volunteer kitchen, as are industrial scale propane burners, and stirring spoons that look like boat paddles. Spices are added with ladle scoops instead of pinches, lentils in kilos instead of cups.
Refugee kitchens are rarely bursting with possibility. Filled with donated rations of pasta, rice, canned vegetables, industrial sized jugs of spices, and soon-to-be-dodgy-produce purchased at cost from local grocery stores, the daily pantry evaluation usually feels a lot more like putting pieces of a simple puzzle together than artistry.
It’s fall here in Switzerland. It feels as though just last week I was sweating through my sundress in Paris, but suddenly I’m pulling my sweater a little tighter and reaching for a scarf to walk into town. The little chocolate shops in the historic old city of Bern are a welcome and warm hideaway from the winds blowing down from the mountains.