Variety is said to be the spice of life, but Earlene Cruz, the founder of Kitchen Connection and an SDGS youth scholar with Peace Boat US, works to literally bring spices to a variety of palates and enhance people’s lives across borders. To celebrate United Nations Day, which is held every 24 of October to mark the anniversary of the entry into force in 1945 of the UN Charter, Earlene and the UN Department of Public Information organized an event near the UN that showcased how spices and cooking can be used to create connections between people.
Earlene Cruz began the event by explaining how she was inspired to form Kitchen Connection after she traveled to Ghana and was graciously hosted by a local family. She became fond of the food they served, especially because it was prepared with much love and affection. After returning home stayed in touch with the family phone calls, and then was struck with the idea of exchanging local recipes across the world using technology. Thus, Kitchen Connection was born. You can find out more about Kitchen Connection here: https://kitchenconnection.org/.
Left: Earlene Cruz, after the success of the event
Right: Earlene in the Summer Program of Peace Boat in 2017
The event was followed by a small meditation session by Suzanna. She stated, “We need inner nourishment and outer nourishment”, and pointed out that in the effort to stay competitive and relevant to the external world, we often forget to nourish our inner beings – our souls. Hence Kitchen Connection brings together the effort to nourish our bodies and souls while also fostering peace and uniting this increasingly globalized world.
Mr. Ethan Frisch, the founder of Burlap and Barrel, also participated in the event. His organization rethinks the supply chains of international spices to make them more direct, traceable and visible. It aims to promote the lives of farmers by raising their awareness and knowledge about available international markets. Ethan highlighted the unique characteristics of spices and how they can help in our efforts towards peacebuilding. He said that “Spices are ubiquitous. Every culture and nation uses spices. They can be any part of the plant; they are more expansive by definition and more inclusive in the kind of cuisines. Spices have been the cause of trade routes, colonialism, etc.” You can find out more about Burlap and Barrel here: https://www.burlapandbarrel.com/)
Chef Nargisse Benkabou guiding the cooking of Amlou
The event also aimed to put on display the objective of Kitchen Connection. Via a video call from an airport while on a trip from Morocco to London, Chef Nargisse Benkabou helped guide real-time preparation in the event of a dish called Amlou to give attendees a nourishing experience. This unique and tasty spread was prepared with roasted almonds, honey, a pinch of salt and cinnamon and the most interesting and pure ingredient of all – pure argan oil. Argan oil comes from southwesternmost Morocco, where local women procure the nuts and manually break them and extract their oil. So treasured is it, that a pure bottle of argan oil of 700 ml can cost up to US $200! After preparation, the spread was offered for tasting to all of the e attendees of the event, which included representatives from various NGOs and t from the NGO Committee of the United Nations.
Extraction and preparation of argan oil
Vegetarian Chef Andrea Lumbrano Sanchez Goldstein attended the event and gave her approval of the first batch
The event was successful in highlighting the relation of the SDG Goals 8, 11 and 15 through spices, food, talented chefs like Nargisse and passionate women entrepreneurs like Earlene.
Earlene and Peace Boat: Earlene received a partial scholarship to attend the Summer Program at Peace Boat in 2017. She believes that her experience in the Summer Program really shaped her ideas in leading a life that’s contributing towards the Sustainable Development Goals. You can find out more information about our new Summer Program in 2018 here: http://www.peaceboat-us.org/programs/peace-education-and-the-un-sustainable-development-goals-sdgs-in-latin-america-summer-2018/
The cohort of the Summer Program in 2017