Today we speak with Azzam, coordinator of the association Raíces, who work on the integration of immigrants into the community. Azzam is originally from Palestine and after many years living in other EU countries, he came and settled in Ronda in 2001. He began working with Raíces eight years ago and is talking to us today about the organisation and their gastronomic event.
What is Raíces? What does the association do?
Raíces is an association which aims for the integration of immigrants into the community of Ronda. In the association we offer FREE Spanish courses to people from Western Sahara and Morocco. We also work with a social worker from La Cruz Roja (The red cross) to provide legal advice to foreigners, if they have issues with things such as right of residency. We are quite a relaxed group, we don’t have official meetings but we meet up now and then to discuss different things and plan events.
What happens at the Gastronomic event?
We have 20 cooks at the event who will each be making a traditional dish from their country. Each cook will make enough for 50 tapas portions, and each dish will cost 1 euro, so there will be plenty of food for everyone! Our cooks provide the food, Entrelenguas provides the drinks and everything for a decent price.
The atmosphere of the event with everyone chatting, eating and enjoying time together is truly incredible, and to bring together so many people from so many different backgrounds and cultures, it’s a wonderful thing.
In addition to this, we have a Tombola, you can buy tickets, sold in strips of 5 tickets (1 euro per ticket). And then you’ll have the opportunity to win one of 3 bottles of wine. The wines are all from Ronda, so they are very local and we have an Austrian wine producer who has hand-picked each wine himself.
We also have 3 bottles of wine as prizes for our cooks. Everyone who attends the event will get the chance to vote for their favourite dish, the top 3 favourites win a bottle of wine. It’s our way of showing our appreciation of the food and saying thank you for their hard work.
Why did you decide to run a Gastronomic event?
For two main reasons, firstly I love cooking! It is one of my greatest passions, so for me an event where people from different countries share food and explain the origins of each food is a fantastic idea!
Also, the association Raíces aims for the integration of everyone in the community, therefore, for me, a food event was a no-brainer. If you cook with people and eat the food and talk together, these people won’t fight together, thus the people are integrated together as a community.
So, as someone who likes cooking, what is your favourite thing to cook?
My favourite dish is one from Palestine that I ate often with my family as I was growing up. It is called Muluolchyya with rabbit. Muluolchyya is a tall vegetable, about a meter and a half tall and is very common in Palestine. They don’t sell it here in Ronda, but I’ve started growing it here in my garden so I can cook it for the event on Saturday!
What happens with the money raised from the event?
As this is a charity event, each year the money goes to a different organisation that helps children. We have close links with La Cruz Roja (The Red Cross) which helps us ensure that the money always goes to the charities to help the children. 2 years ago, the money helped children in Syria, last year the money went to the charity Ronda Children and this year the money will go to help children in Yemen.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Just that I hope people come and enjoy the event as it’s for a good cause.
Thank you very much for talking to us today Azzam, and just to remind everyone, the event is this coming Saturday 21st October from 1:30pm in Entrelenguas.
Come along with your friends and family- everyone’s welcome, the more, the merrier!
© By Abi Nobes