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Crossing Borders: Food and Feasting

Saturday was a busy day at the museum, with our annual event ‘Crossing Borders’. This event is produced in collaboration with Southwark Day Centre for Asylum Seekers and we have been doing it for the last 6 years.

The first activity was an Eritrean Coffee Ceremony led by Abeba and her sister. Abeba started by roasting the green coffee beans - the smell of the roasting beans completely filled the Education Centre.  To add to the smells in the room, she also burnt frankincense.

  • Eritrean Coffee Ceremony, Roasting the coffee beans
    Roasting the coffee beans

The roasted beans are then ground and transferred to a pot called a jebena and boiling water poured in.

  • Eritrean Coffee Ceremony, Heating the jebena
    Heating the jebena

Abeba had brought her own beautiful little cups to serve the coffee and added a little bit of ground ginger and a good spoonful of sugar to each.

  • Eritrean Coffee Ceremony, Abeba pours coffee into the cups
    Abeba pours coffee into the cups

To go with the coffee we ate some of the delicious food made by people from the Centre - Alganesh brought an Eritrean bread called hembesha, Abeba brought popcorn, and Chovan made a pineapple upside-down-cake.

  • Crossing Borders, Cutting hembesha to share
    Cutting hembesha to share

  • Crossing Borders, A plate of popcorn
    A plate of popcorn

In the afternoon Ahmadzia ran a kite-making workshop. He has been making and flying kites since he was a child.  He had brought with him the exact cotton he needed, specially imported from Afghanistan. Somehow he even demonstrated his skills by flying a kite inside the education centre!

In Gallery Square, we exhibited the work done during our sessions at SDCAS. Each plate and napkin in 'Banquet of Memories' told the story of a different person who attends the Centre.

Along with these went our Pinterest board of suggestions for an International Feast, developed with the help our Twitter and Facebook followers.

It was a really great day and visitors to the museum gave us some good feedback:

‘It was great to see such a lovely community spirit at the coffee ceremony’

‘Today was excellent – great to get people in the local community involved – that’s what made it so good’

‘I enjoyed reading about the values people attach to food and learning the various recipes – thank you!’