Interview with Eric from Colombia
Which country do you consider to be your country?
That´s a difficult question, if you are asking for a specific country. Because I think the experiences I have in living abroad in another country are also part of my life. So for me it´s difficult to say I am from a specific country. I would say there is not a country which I consider my main country.
So would you say you have a few countries you can relate to quite well?
Well, Colombia is the country where I was born and most of my family is living there. I know a lot about their politics I´m also concerned about what happens there. But to say that this my main country – I don´t know. My main country is a very difficult question. For example now, I have the opportunity to live in Spain. And also I have been studying and doing my masters here. All these activities are part of my life and I like them as much as I would like them in another country. Like I would in Colombia or the States, or as I am doing right now in Spain.
So, you are living in Spain now. Why did you choose Spain?
I chose it because my partner is from here, that´s the main reason. Last year I was in Colombia working there. But when we meet we decided to live together and Spain is the place where we can live together. The best opportunities for both of us are in Spain. If it would get difficult here we could try again in another country as we have the chance to find a job for both of us.
You both speak Spanish. Do you prefer a Spanish speaking country to live in?
For the language I would say that it is easier to live in a country where you can find people that speak your native language. I think it would be challenging in another country. Or maybe better. But I think the most common problems you face in another country are more related to your job or your studies.
You also did your master in Spain. How would you compare the education system in Spain to the one in Colombia?
In education they are more or less the same. If you are looking for a broad spectrum of masters I think the best option is in Spain or in other countries rather than Colombia. But if you are looking for a job I think it is quite complicated in Spain. Because there is a lot of people. So, in that sense I think it depends which kind of options and which kind of opportunities you have – in Spain, in Colombia or in any other country.
Do you like living in Spain?
I like living here, living here has been really good. I cannot complain about anything. The weather is perfect, it´s the best weather I`ve ever experienced, people here are nice. Jobs are not so easy. But I have this strong feeling that it is difficult to find a job if you´re around 20 or 30.
How long have you been living here now?
Is there something you especially miss about Colombia?
My family. Most of it is my family. But the culture not really. The most important part if my family. My mum especially.
Could you tell me a general misconception people usually have about Colombia?
I´m sure you have already heard something about the famous drug dealer Pablo Escobar and all the issues related to him. There are some parts of his story that are true, but also others that are completely made up.
Colombia is an amazing country. But I think Colombia is a country of contrast. You can find 3 kinds of social groups there. People who are rich, who are the wealthiest of the country. The middle class, which is not so big, with a tiny social structure and the poor people – who are more than the middle class. You can see this structure in the cities. The main problems that are related to Colombia are the issues related to the people that are living in the poor areas. But Colombia is a complex country and you can find so much contrast there. Geographically you can find something from cold to Caribbean weather and really high mountains, the Andes. So we have a lot contrast geographically. Socially, people from different skin colours, black to white. You can see a lot of contrast there, culturally, socially, there are many changes. The problem is that outside we are seen “Colombians are related to cocaine, or drug dealing”. Obviously that´s like saying Spain is just about bull fights and flamenco, which is not true.
How do the differences in the country effect the people there?
Sometimes you can find a slight discrimination considering where people are living. For example, someone who is from the coast could be seen to be someone who is lazy. So, there are stereotypes related to where you come from. Even though we are Colombians we don´t have any particular problems like for example Spain has with Catalunya now. We don´t have this situation. But we have discrimination, a little sublet discrimination between us. But we are Colombians. We are very close to Venezuelans as well. I think we have many cultural issues that are similar. Like Spain and France are similar. That´s also why I think this political statement of I belong to a country doesn´t fit anymore for our time.
How would you notice this sublet discrimination you were talking about?
For example in Colombia there is a region called Choco. This place has been dominated
by black people, because when they were at the beginning of the county they were forced to live outside of it. They were forced on this land. So they ended up in this state named Choco. Even there you can find discrimination from white people. Because the main population is black. They feel somehow threatened about their place. But they are not really accustomed to white people. And we have the same discrimination the other way around. For example in Bogota, the capital people are mainly white. There you can hear racist comments from people. You can hear them saying nigger or something like that. So, there is discrimination. There are two kinds of discrimination. The worst is the social discrimination according to your wealth. If you are rich, some people used to discriminate rich people as well. Nowadays that´s not that common anymore. There is discrimination in daily life. I would say that it is hidden discrimination. No one will say oh you´re black, but people would look at you weirdly.
Is discrimination tolerated in Colombia?
No it´s not tolerated socially. I think Colombia is a very progressive country. But socially, politically, it´s not accepted to discriminated. I think discrimination is penalized in some cases. It depends on the specific situation.
What´s the general reaction you normally get when you tell people “Hi, I´m Colombian”?
Well, it depends on who is on the other side. If it is someone who already was in Colombia they say “Great, it´s a beautiful country” most of the time. But for people who don´t have any idea of my country you can see them thinking like “Ah, oh Colombia, coffee,..” sometimes they say Pablo Escobar. Sometimes you can get very surprising answers.
Which answers were surprising to you?
The last one was Pablo Escobar. Medellin. People say Colombia oh, coffee, Sofia Vergara. But it´s a stereotype so, at the end I think it doesn´t help too much to get an image of the country, it´s just a stereotype.
Do you also get some comments about drug dealing?
Yeah sometimes some kinds of jokes. And I usually take them as a joke, because yeah, people sometimes try to be nice and the only thing they know sometimes is Pablo Escobar and drugs, and that´s it. So it stays a joke because they don´t know so much about the country.
What´s your favourite thing about Colombia?
The place where I was born – that is the most important place for me. But as I think it is a very special country. But like any other country it can have amazing people and there´s not so much difference for me between one country or another. There are countries that have a long historical background, but well, Colombia and many Latin American countries are very new. Like America.
What is the biggest difference between Spain and Colombia?
I think the people here are generally more educated. They have more opportunities to get education so they are more educated in general. But you can find so many differences. But that´s the main difference for me.
Do you have anything you would still like to clarify about Colombia?
I would say that unfortunately these action movies and series are interesting, but this
causes a fake idea about the situation. And unfortunately people believed in it. So I would say that to everything related to Pablo Escobar. Yes, Pablo Escobar was real, he was a real issue in Colombia. But it was in the 90s. But the history of Colombia in the 90s was so different from now. I mean I can say that there is drug traffic. But I don´t know any specific country that doesn´t have problems with drugs. But the Pablo Escobar structure that is sold in the series is not what the reality looks like. There is no Pablo Escobar right now, or no other drug dealer in this position. Now Colombia is a country that is trying to gain back their trust in the state, the government. They have their problems. But well I think it´s doing better now than in this previous years. But especially in the 90s the situation was real difficult and in the beginning to the 2000s.
Anything else you would like to add?
Colombia is a nice place to visit. I haven´t been to many pleas there. I haven’t been to many touristic places and I still have to go there. I want to go to the amazon for example. Or people from outside of Colombia: there is so much to know. And it´s a changing country. I think everything is changing now.
I guess I´m like most Europeans – I don’t know much about Colombia. That´s why I, again, learned a lot from this interview. We shouldn´t just focus on countries that are right in front of our nose – and especially in Europe we tend to do that. Everything a bit further away (except the US) is not really present in the news, is not really present in peoples´ minds. But these are the countries that have a lot to offer whom we have a lot to learn from as we basically don´t know anything about them. That´s why you should listen to Erics story, to any story anyone from the other side of the world can tell you – you will benefit greatly from it, I promise.
Recipe: Vegan Peanut Butter Curry
Ingredients (for 2 hungry people)
- 2 cups of dried soy
- 1 Zucchini
- 1 can of corn
- 1 onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- ½ cup of soy milk
- 3 Tablespoons of soy sauce
- 1 Tablespoon of tamari
- 2 Tablespoons of peanut butter
- 2 Tablespoons of Chili sauce
- Curry powder
- Paprika powder
- 1 Butternut squash
- 3 cups of red rice
- Vegetable stock (paste)
This curry is awesome. As I love peanut butter I try to use it all the time. It might not be a traditional curry but adds a nice creaminess to your curry you definitely don´t want to miss! It´s a creamy peanut butter dream. The butternut squash also goes perfectly on side with the curry. I cut mine in thick chips and they definitely come out perfectly crunchy but soft on the inside. To keep this crunchiness, I put them aside along with the red rice!
So, let´s talk about Butternut Squash for a while! This vegetable is loaded with vitamins and has some awesome health benefits! This pumpkin provides lots of vitamin C which boosts your immune system. Vitamin C has also been proven to increase your skin condition. It´s also a good source of fiber – and therefore good for your digestive system! Find out even more health benefits here Health Benefits of Butternut Squash
So, with all these cool benefits in mind, let´s start, shall we?
Peanut butter curry
First of all, put your rice in a pot with water. Put ½ times as much water in your pot as rice, then add the vegetable stock to it. This helps to enhance the flavor of your rice.
Cut off the skin of your butternut squash and remove the seeds. I usually do this by cutting it in half first. Then I remove the skin of the upper half. Afterwards I cut the lower part in half again and remove the seeds with a spoon. Then I cut off the skin as well. Once you´re done removing the skin, cut up your pumpkin into thin round pieces as you cut it vertically. Then lay the pieces out on a baking tray and put them into the oven at 200°C. Bake them for about 30-40 minutes.
In the meantime, we can make our peanut butter curry. First, peal the onion and cut it into small pieces. Sauté them until they become translucent. During the time your onions are cooking, soak your dried soy. To soak it, we are going to make a spicy mixture. Put the soymilk into a cup along with your soy sauce, tamari, peanut butter and chili sauce. Mix all of the ingredients well together, then let the dried soy soak in that mixture for a little bit. Once your onions are ready, add your soy to the mixture and let it cook on medium heat. Now you can chop up your zucchini into small pieces and add them to the pan as well as your garlic. I usually slice up my garlic very thinly, to enhance its flavor. Let it simmer for 5 minutes. The last thing we are going to add is the corn as it is canned and doesn´t need to be cooked down anymore. Now we are ready to spice it up a bit! Add your curry powder, paprika powder, salt and pepper to taste. Once you´re satisfied with the taste, remove it from the heat. Your rice and pumpkin should also be done now as well. Put the pumpkin out of the oven and let it cool for a few minutes.
Now we are ready to assemble and dig in! I served my butternut squash with a bit of vegan mayo; however, this is optional. It does taste amazing on its own as well.
Interview with Sue from Istanbul, Turkey
Which country do you consider to be your country?
Can I choose countries all over the world?
I don´t know – the world is so big. I have too many countries that I have never visited before. But from the one I have I would choose Costa Rica. Costa Rica is me.
So what did you especially like about Costa Rica?
Nature. Everything is natural. Everything is pure. If you cut a tree on the road, for example, the government can punish you for that. Even if you just cut a little tree. And the people living there also don´t respect it if you destroy something in nature. But, actually, the main reason I like it is happiness. Because happiness is building the culture, you are learning how to be respectful to every single culture even if the are different. So yeah, I think it is Costa Rica.
How long did you live in Costa Rica?
Two and a half months, but it was – everything. I loved spending my time there.
So, you were born and raised in Turkey. How do you feel about this country?
The thing is, I had no chance to choose the place where I was born, but I have a chance to decide where I want to live. I really love my Turkey, but every country has a different mentality. Even if the country is seen as a really good country, we humans are making the country a country. So, it´s about the people. There are so many different people in Turkey – from all around the world. Even if they are Turkish, we have a lot of different types of Turkish people.
How do you feel about the people in your country?
I love people. I don´t have anything against anyone. Even if someone would do something really bad to me I´d say “Ok, they choose to do that, it´s their thing.” But I will not break down because of something like that. I love Turkish people, I love Turkish hospitality, I love Turkish smiles and I love Turkish food. But yeah, I just love people.
Do you plan on living in Turkey or do you want to keep travelling?
I want to spend my time in different countries as much as I can. From all around the world. I don´t want to limit myself to be honest. Because, yes, I was born in Turkey and my parents are Turkish, but there´s a whole planet that we are living on. So we need to see everything. Because we are maybe just living once. So we need to see everything, every culture, we need to exchange cultures.
Can you see yourself living in Costa Rica one day?
I will. I will. It´s my biggest goal in life. After my forties or after my thirty-fives I will definitely find a way. Even if I couldn´t fulfill my dreams I will live there for sure. It´s like…the purpose of my life right now.
What do you think Turkish people are known for?
Every Turkish has morals. And we have good hospitality. Even if you are in a different region of Turkey, even if you visit a different culture in Turkey. If you really know the local Turkish people, the main thing about our culture is hospitality. You can just ask for food of someone, you can ask for a stay with someone and ask for help. And they are helpful. They are really helpful.
Could you tell me a general misconception people usually have about Turkish people?
Wow, I don´t even know where to start. People think, for example, we are living in the desert in the middle of nowhere. Turkey has a really beautiful geographical place in the world. Our landscape is really diverse.
One time I was in the States, I took an Uber and the Uber driver was really shocked when I told him that I am from Turkey.
He asked me “Really? Seriously? Can I ask you something? Can you have a boyfriend in Turkey?”
“Yes, why not?!”
“Oh, I thought that you were all wearing a hijab and you have really strict rules because of your dictatorship.”
“No, of course not”.
Once time, when I was in Costa Rica, they asked me if I was riding Camels in Turkey. They are always asking me why I am not wearing the hijab.
When I ask him “Hey, do you know where Turkey is?”
They reply “It´s in the middle east.”
No, it´s Asia, Europe and Middle-East. Mostly they are asking me “Do you have winter? Do you have seasons or do you have just one season or something?” So, I´ve already gotten a lot of weird questions.
Do you also get questions about your religion?
Yes and most people don´t know what Islam is. For example, I am a Muslim. I´m really happy to be a Muslim. But I am living my religion on my own, I don´t have to show it to anyone. I don´t have to talk to anyone, I don´t have to convince people that I am Muslim.
What´s the general reaction of people when you say “I´m Muslim”?
Oh, the first question always is “Pork?”.
So when I´m telling them I´m vegetarian, they are like “Ah, that´s why you´re vegetarian. You are not eating pork, it´s not halal.”
And I´m like “No, it´s my choice.”
People normally ask me about pork, hijab and praying five times per day. They are
asking why I´m drinking alcohol, why I am going out, why I am dressing the way I dress if I believe in Islam. For example, a couple of days ago I met a Turkish guy in a club who is living in Germany. He never visited Turkey before. And he thought that I couldn´t dress like I dress if I am living there. He was like “Are you Muslim? And why are you dressed like this?” It´s not your business. And in Islam, it is written that you cannot judge people. Even if they are doing something bad we cannot judge people, because of their religion, because of their believes. If you start to judge them you are out of Islam. It´s a rule, you cannot judge people.
One big topic right now is the political situation of your country. What do you think about it?
Right now, because I am far away for two and a half months, I couldn´t follow it too much. But it has been many years that we are living in this situation. Because now, once euro is 8 Turkish liras which is really good money in Turkey.
And then I always hate radicals. Like I told you before, if you believe in something, believe it by your own. Just start to think if it makes sense for you, for the people, for the community. If you think, then it´s okay. You cannot just believe something without thinking.
Now Turkey, has the same problem. Because half of the population are smiling and say “Yes, we are not supporting this. We are supporting human rights, animal rights, everything.” But, in the backyards when you hurt an animal, you just pay little amount of money in the court and you are free. But actually it doesn´t matter if it´s an animal or a human. We are the same Torturing is the same thing. And we are living in the 21st century. If you ignore this law that much, you´re not a good politician, you´re not a good leader. If you just let the people rape women, just let people kill, threat, torture. Now they started to have new rules, new laws. Before not. Because when people started to shout “It´s enough!”
For example, I don´t want to judge anyone about it, but in Germany we have a lot of Turkish people. And we are getting a lot of votes for the government from people who live there. But they are earning in euros. They are spending euros there, yes. But they are earning in euros. They can have both citizenships. When Turkish people from Turkey go abroad, they are spending Turkish lira, not euros and it´s too much.
Tourists are coming to Turkey a lot, but local people can´t go a lot out of Turkey. Because it´s expensive, because of the economy. For many years now. So, the political issues are there. This is a really a deep question. If we really start to talk about everything, it´s not going to end for one week to be honest. Because if you stared to live in Turkey, then you would understand. You cannot describe these things to people from outside. And the people I was talking about, Turkish people in other countries. They are not living in Turkey. They are not in the same situation as we are.
So do you think foreigner living abroad should be able to vote?
They should be able to vote. Of course. But they need to think. It´s really simple. They need to think. Also about the people not only about themselves only. Because it´s selfish, but it´s karma. It will return anyways. I don´t know I hate it when people are deciding something for our country even if they are not living there. They vote. I´m supporting them being able to vote. If they can think and if they can state their opinion cleverly I can accept it. I can talk about it. But they normally can´t.
Do you get a lot of questions about politics from people you meet as well?
Oh yes, today it´s my fourth time that I am talking about our political situation with someone. Some guest asked me first, and I talked with another intern from the hostel and I talked with my friend and now I´m talking to you. It´s the fourth times today. Every single day.
What´s your favorite thing about your country?
It´s cliché maybe, but whenever I go it will be my home. The smell of my country. Really, it´s different. The taste of everything is different. My family. My friends.
When I wake up I like to see green outside my window or when I walk in the street I like to say “Hey, how is it going?” to the vendors in the market halls.
Because they are always “Hey, thank you, thank you, good morning”
We have a phase in Turkey that we always say to each other. It´s not so easy to translate it to English but it´s like this: “I whish that your work will be much easier for you today.”
We always keep on saying that to each other. I think I miss people’s helpful behavior. There´s a lot of things I miss. I really miss water. Water is really tasty in Turkey.
You´ve been living in Spain for a while now. What would you say is the biggest difference between Spain and Turkey?
Turkey is safer. It is. It is really safer than Barcelona. In Barcelona it was the first time that I was scared walking on the streets or at the beach in the whole world, from the places I visited. Istanbul is much safer. Barcelona is something different. When I went inside first I hated that country, and this city. Then I started to love it, because you´re getting used to it, you´re adapting. Because it´s different.
So you live in Istanbul?
Yes, but I went to most of the cities in Turkey.
Which one was your favorite?
So many. On the Asian side the beaches are perfect. The Mediterranean side is perfect. Black sea is perfect. Every part is different. When you go to the east, when you start to walk and they recognize that you´re foreign they are like
“Hey, come eat with, come stay with us you must be hungry. And sleep here.”
They are really inviting you into their home. Ii love every place in my country. I love my country. Really. I love Costa Rica too though. It´s my second home.
Do you still have some things you would like to clarify about Turkey?
Just I want people to stop believing what they are reading or seeing on television and the internet. And they are just reading that. If they come at least once to Turkey, they will understand what I mean. You cannot understand Turkey if you haven´t visited it at least once. Twice is much better. Third time is much better. But at least you need to live that experience and then you can start to say anything.
Is there something else you would like to add?
I miss bars in Istanbul. Really. They are open until the morning. My country is gorgeous. Visit Istanbul, visit Turkey. And if you´re from Europe it´s going to be cheap for you.
This interview left me with the strong urge of wanting to go to Turkey and experiencing this culture for myself. Especially about Turkey, I am sure a lot of people have a pre- made image in their minds. We are influenced by the things we see in the news, on social media and and sometimes we are not even considering how people living in Turkey must be feeling. That´s what I am trying to illustrate here. Growing a deep understanding of where a person really comes from is something really beautiful. Of course, all these interviews are personal, of course they do not reflect all Turkish people. Still, it gives you more insight than any news channel might do. It´s amazing how even talking to one person can shift one´s pre-made assumptions. I am a very open-minded person, but I am not unaffected by my culture and by how I´ve been conditioned. I am very aware of that. That´s why I am trying to break these habits of thinking – and inviting everyone to join and try as well!
Want to read more?
Find out more about Poland
Or about the United States!
Interview with Anita from Poland
Which country would you consider to be your country?
I think that Spain is my country. I feel better in Spain than in Poland. Because of the people, because of the weather and the sun. I really love it. When I walk I love the smell of coffee in the streets. People smile and are just more cheerful than in my country. So, I feel better in Spain. And a lot of people told me that my soul is from Spain or from a Latin country. And I think it´s like that too. When I talk to my family and friends in Poland they tell me that mi alma es espanola (my soul is Spanish). And the people here in Spain confirmed it. But I feel Polish and I´m really proud that I´m Polish. I just prefer to be in Spain and among Spanish or Latin people.
What do you feel when you are in Poland? Do you feel at home there?
I just feel like everything is normal, it´s regular and I feel comfortable. Yeah, I feel really comfortable in Poland because I know everything. I know how to deal with a lot of things there and I just don’t have to look for information like in Spain. So like the informal part of living in Spain is really good, but just the formal one is a bit difficult because I don´t know Spanish formal reality. But the informal one is perfect for me.
When did you discover your alma española (Spanish soul)?
Actually, I don’t know and I am still looking for the answer when it started. But I think that it started from the Telenovelas from Muñeca Brava – I don’t know the name in English. But when Natalia Oreiro was singing I was like “Wow I really like it”. And then I started to watch Rebelde – it´s a Mexican Telenovela and I just always wanted to go to Mexico and get to know this country. I started to learn Spanish and then I started English philology with Spanish. Spanish classes were my favorite classes. I couldn’t wait to go and to learn something in Spanish. Then I found a Spanish friend and he told
me a lot of things about Spain about the Spanish culture. His personality was also so different and so weird for me. In the first minute of our conversation he told me a lot of things about him and about his daily life. He sent me photos of his shopping and we knew each other for like one hour. And I thought “What is wrong with this guy?” But then I just realized it´s everything okay, he´s just Spanish. He has gasolina in his blood. Yeah and then, it was getting deeper and deeper when I started to know Spanish more and this guy more. I read more about Spain, about Mexico. I had another friend from Mexico. The two told me a lot about their culture and tradition and they sent me photos and I was probably more in Mexican and Spanish reality than I was in Poland. My body was in Poland but my mind was, my soul was with them. And I think that I just got so deep into these cultures that I started to feel like I was from Mexico or from Spain. My dream was to live a month in Spain and I found a way how to do it. And here I am now.
So it´s your first time living in a Latin country?
Do you want to stay here in Barcelona?
Yeah, I want to stay. My favorite region is Andalucia. And now I am looking for the answer why. First I was looking for the answer “Why Spain?” And now I´m looking for the answer “Why Andalusia? “ I´ve been to Sevilla and Jerez de la Frontera and this region is amazing. I felt something, I can´t explain what it was, but something attracted me to go there and to live there for some months to realize if it´s this place where I want to live. But for sure, southern Europe is my place. I feel really good in Poland, really comfortable. Of course, with my family it´s my comfort zone. But when I have to deal with some office matters in Poland or with people… I´m the only person that smiles on the streets. Sometimes I feel really like I give people my energy but I don´t get energy back from them. This makes me really sad. But here, in Spain, I give people energy and I get this energy back. So, I really like it.
What would you say is a general misconception people have against Poland?
That we have vodka in our blood. Okay. Polish people drink a lot. But I don´t think that Polish people drink more than English people or than people here in Spain. I think it´s the same. It´s just a misconception because maybe our alcohol is stronger. And we don´t drink a lot of cocktails and sweet drinks. We just drink pure vodka. And I think that´s the misconception. But I think the amount of alcohol we consume is more or less the same as in Spain, in France in Italy.
What is the first thing you get to hear when you say “Hey, I´m from Poland”
Oh, really? You speak Spanish very well. (laughing)
So they assume that because you´re from Poland you don´t speak any other language?
Maybe not any other language, but for sure not Spanish. Because still Spain is considered as an exotic country in Poland and Spanish is not a popular language in Poland. So that´s why people here are really surprised somebody from Poland can speak Spanish. This language is not popular in Poland. Why should Polish people learn Spanish? But our language, Polish, is really difficult and almost nobody uses it, so we have to learn a lot of languages to communicate with the rest of the world. For sure English, but still – sometimes when Polish people come to Spain and I work at the reception the hostel, it´s really difficult to communicate with them even in English. But people who study, who live in big cities they speak English really well. Of course, we have our hard polish accent. But I think that is not the most important thing. The most important thing is the ability to communicate and to understand each other.
What would you say is the biggest difference you spotted between Poland and Spain?
The behavior of people. Like people here sometimes are like oh, we don´t care, don´t make drama, just calm down. And for sure they are more cheerful, they express more emotions, they really like to hug, to kiss and it´s really nice for me. In Poland, we have a cold, not a warm culture. Spain is a warm culture. So, in Poland, we like distance, we don’t like a lot of emotions or being really expressive. But Spanish people really like it. It´s normal for them. And I think it´s better, because we are all humans and our relations are important. Especially now in the time of the iPhone, mobile phones everything and we spend a lot of time texting, on messenger, Instagram, Facebook and with this and with our cold culture we could maybe become afraid of talking to each some day. I think that is better here in Spain. But sometimes it´s better in Poland. It depends on the situation. But I certainly prefer it here. But I also love my country, I love my radiations and my holidays.
What do you especially love about your traditions?
I love Christmas and the preparation for Christmas, baking, preparing cookies, gingerbread, decorating the Christmas tree, setting the table and then just spending time with my family. The smell of oranges and gingerbread, dumplings, yeah I really like it. But this gathering at this time it´s another example of my southern soul. I really like it, because all people are together and we are doing things together. And this is my favorite holiday in Poland.
Did you already find a tradition you like as much in Spain?
Hmm not yet. I think the time I spent here is not enough to discover it. And I didn´t spend any holiday with a Spanish family just to discover it, so not yet. I think it´s ahead of me.
If you would have to define yourself would you rather describe yourself as Spanish or polish?
I´m Polish. I´m always polish, but maybe I have some other influences from people from southern Europe. And I don´t know why. Nobody from my family lived in Spain or a Latin country. I´m the first one who decided to immigrate to Spain. And maybe it´s because I studied foreign languages at the same time. They always told us that each language gives you a new life. So let´s say I have four lives in my soul. But I´m not sure. I´ll always tell that I’m Polish. I´m not Spanish. I live in Spain I love this culture, no, but I’m not Spanish I´m Polish with a cheerful soul.
Do you have any other prejudices you´ve already heard against Polish people you would like to clarify?
So the first one is about alcohol. The second one is that Polish people don´t speak Russian. We don´t know the Russian letters. Only if somebody studies Russian, they know, but if not Russian is not similar to Polish. Maybe it sounds similar but it isn´t. And Polish girls are not similar to Russian girls. This makes me so angry when I tell people I´m from Poland. “Oh it´s like Russia!” No, it´s not like Russia. It´s Poland.
And that we are not a dangerous country. Polish people are not dangerous. We are cold, sometimes we don´t smile, but we love people form foreign countries. We have really good hospitality. And we are always going to welcome our guests from Spain, Mexico, United States, Italy with tea, with cake, dinner and with some food and a really nice atmosphere at home. I think that Poland is considered as a country without any important influence in Europe. And since Polish people are not that known by any stereotype or somethings like that, it´s normal that people are afraid of something unknown. So I think that´s why Polish people are sometimes afraid of other cultures. Because of our sad history, sometimes because of our economic situation – which could be worse. I think that we are afraid of Spanish people because they are a bit noise. And they are going to hug you. We are like that because of our history, that´s my explanation of our personality. Yeah, but for sure when you go to Poland we are going to meet you with open arms. Because we love that. We like people from other countries who want to know our history, our country, or cultures, our architecture. We really like it
Would you have some additional thoughts you would like to share?
That we don´t have really good weather in winter, but in summer the weather is really nice. It´s not too hot, it´s not too cold. It´s the perfect weather for sightseeing, for visiting my beautiful country. And we have everything. We have mountains, we have the sea and we have lakes. We have an amazing history, sad, but really rich. And we have many beautiful buildings and I would recommend everybody to go to Wroclaw, for me, it´s the most beautiful city in Poland, to Poznan, Crakovia, Varsovia. Okay, this is the thing I would like to clarify. Because when I ask people what they know about Poland or I tell them I´m from there, oh they only know Varsovia and Crakovia, claro, solo. But we have more beautiful cities, especially than Varsovia, it´s not so beautiful for me, I prefer Crakovia,but Wroclaw is my favorite.
And we have really nice beaches, they are really clean. For sure they are cleaner than here in Barcelona despite the fact that we have a lot of tourists. The sea is cold, but it´s beautiful. It´s perfect for walking, for relaxing, maybe not for swimming if you are from southern Europe. But just for walking and relaxing it´s perfect. You have to try Polish food, because it´s really nice – and maybe one shot of polish vodka.
In this interview, Antia really made me wanting to travel to Poland! I think Poland is not our most wanted travel destination – or at least for most of us. But why not? It is a beautiful country and I´m just waiting to go there and meet some new amazing people. However, I do share her feeling of having a different, more cheerful soul than the rest of her country. It´s awesome to find another culture you really feel you belong to – with your own adaptions, your own roots. The more you get to know a culture the more it can become yours. I also loved the stereotypes she mentioned, because the first thing I think of when it comes to Poland is, indeed, Vodka. I´m sure they have nice Vodka there, but it shouldn´t be our only assumption should it? So, this interview led me, once again to learn more about a beautiful culture most of us certainly don´t know well enough.
Images: Source: Google
How to get your healthy greens?
Mix spirulina into your smoothie once in a while – for some awesome health benefits! Spirulina is nowadays hyped as THE superfood – but why?
So, let´s take a closer look at the research
Spirulina is a microalgae, mostly sold as a powder.
Per gram it has the most variety of nutrients than any other food in the world. Research shows that
- Spirulina has 3900% more beta carotene than carrots
- Spirulina has 2300% more iron than spinach
- Spirulina has 375% more protein than tofu
- Three grams of Spirulina have more antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity than five servings of vegetables
- Comparing phytonutrient levels, Spirulina is 31 times more potent than blueberries, 60 times more potent than spinach and 700 times more potent than apples*
So, with these benefits in mind, let´s get into our healthy smoothie, shall we?
Ingredients (for 2 big smoothie bowls)
- 2 Bananas
- ½ Pineapple
- 1 apple
- 6 leaves of spinach
- ½ cucumber
- ½ avocado
- 200 ml soy milk
- 2 teaspoons of spirulina powder (find more info where to get it from at the end of my post!)
- 1 Tablespoon of hemp seeds
- 1 Tablespoon of chia seeds
- 1 Tablespoon of flax seeds
- A handful of raisins
- Soy yoghurt
- ½ banana
- Hemp seeds
I love spirulina as it has so many health benefits and gets me to develop new awesome smoothie recipes nearly every day. I love to drink this one after my work out to get a real energy boost after sweating in the gym for 2 hours. This spirulina smoothie gets you a lot of your healthy greens as well as some sweetness with the soy yoghurt and the bananas on top.
The smoothie is pretty self-explanatory. Put all the ingredients listed above in your blender. I would suggest blending the bananas, pineapple, apple and cucumber first as they usually take some time to process. Add the soymilk to blend everything smoothly together. Then add all your other ingredients and blend them up one more time! Soon you´ll have your delicious green spirulina smoothie you can then transfer into a bowl now.
For the toppings, slice up some dates up and mix them into your soy yoghurt. Dates are an awesome alternative to sugar when it comes to adding a bit of sweetness to your food. In this case, the sweet yoghurt was the perfect combination to my green smoothie bowl. Add some cinnamon to taste into your yoghurt as well to round it all up. Then you can assemble the bowl the way you see it below! Top it with your yoghurt, the banana, walnuts and a sprinkle of hemp seeds.
Now you´re ready to go! Enjoy, after a work-out, as breakfast or just in between – this smoothie will keep you energized for a long time!
*Sources: The Medical Research of Spirulina: http://www.cyanotech.com/pdfs/spirulina/Spirulina_Abstracts.pdf
**I bought my spirulina at Ecocentre Supermercado Vegano in Barcelona https://www.ecocentre.cat/
***My spirulina was from el Granero integral https://www.elgranero.com/mejorar/propiedades-del-alga-spirulina/7
Interview with Britney from the USA
Which country would you consider to be your country?
My country is definitely the United States of America. I was born and raised there and even though I have travelled to many countries now I still feel unfairly the sense of nationality there, because it was just what I was brought up with and what I find to be normal. So, I would still choose the United States.
Was there a particular country you were impressed with along your travels?
I was impressed by man many countries. I found things impressive of everywhere I went almost. And I even wrote a cook book about it. So I wrote a cook book with kind of food cultures from all the different places. I love the food culture in Italy for example and I love the food culture in Denmark also. And in Spain as well. So I am very impressed by other countries and I think the one that stands out the most would probably be Denmark. My boyfriend is from Denmark and I really like the values they have and the way they take care of their people. That´s something that I can´t say is true in my own country. So that´s disappointing.
How do you feel about people taking care of each other in America?
I feel like this is something that we need a lot of progress with. We don´t take care of each other we´re more interested in taking care of ourselves – and we don´t even do that well, so in that sense it´s very problematic. There is a huge separation between rich and poor. And unfortunately a lot of people are suffering from this. But on the contrary there is just this really overwhelming feeling of aspiring for success that I don´t find in a lot of other countries – and when I do find it they are often inspired by Americans. So I like that desire to dream and to hope for more. Versus in Denmark they don´t hope for more they are happy about what they have. So there´s something beautiful about both of those things.
Could you tell me a general misconception people have about the United States?
Yeah, there´s many. We´re all fat, we all have guns and…let´s see. Fat and guns, those are my favorite ones I guess.
So, why is it not true?
It probably is true in some parts in the United States. What´s funny is that – the United States are really big. Almost as big as Europe. There´s so many States and every State has their own culture. I´m from California and our own culture I really strong. We actually have a very healthy culture so I don´t think we are the fattest state, not even close. We´re the state that like salad and avocado and oranges. And we´re the state that doesn´t do a lot of guns. I have never seen a gun in my life. So as an American that says something right.
Which would be the State where these prejudices fit better would you say?
Probably Texas, I think, is top of both of these things. I´ve never really spent time in Texas I guess I´ve been there but I was very young. But I hear in Texas they have a lot of fat people and a lot of guns and a lot of this old mentality this old cowboy masculinity mentality. And fortunately I think it´s dying out. There are even parts of Texas now that are seen being healthy as California. These major cities. Austin is having lots of Yoga studios and you wouldn’t think of Texas being like this but I think the new generation is bringing a lot of mindful things into the culture.
What´s the general reaction of people when you say “Hey, I´m from America”?
Well, my Danish boyfriend has thought me not to say that I´m from America and to say that I´m from Las Angeles, because their minds goes to something more positive like movies and the beach versus America which could be anywhere. But no, when I say my name and I say I´m from America they usually make some joke about Britney Spears. My name´s Britney so – oh Britney Spears from America. And I did live in Hollywood and I did work in cinema so there´s some truth to it. And I´m proud of that. But yeah when I say I´ve never seen a gun or I´ve never been to Texas or I´ve actually never been to most of the States it obviously shows that there isn´t one culture. There´s a lot of cultures.
Do you think people travel a lot in the United States?
I think they don´t travel a lot and I think it´s not a choice. I think that I mean I know that even growing up in California in a very liberal State, in school they teach you America is the best country, America is the biggest, America is the best and they never say you don´t need to travel or one thing. But some people would go to travel assuming that America is the best and then if they found out that America wasn’t the best that would shatter their world view a little bit. So maybe they don´t want to travel subconsciously. I know that Americans don´t travel enough because most of them don´t have their passport. That is very odd, I know, to a lot of European people. Yeah, my dad doesn´t have his passport. My family got their passport when I started travelling so they could visit me. But I was the first in my family, besides my grandmother, to have a passport. And people don´t even know how to get their passport. It´s actually quite difficult. You have to go to many many different offices. And it´s quite expensive the first time you do it. Of course it lasts ten years – but if you only going to use it once then maybe people don´t find the value in it. You can even go to Mexico without a passport. So if you´re just going there then you don´t need it either. You can go on a lot of cruise ships without a passport. Anyways, no, Americans don´t travel that often. And maybe they find travel within the States themselves. Which I don´t think is the right thing to do.
So do you think Americans don´t get their passport because they don´t want to travel?
There´s also this thing in the culture where you´re supposed to go to school and work really hard and get a good job so that some day later in life you can travel. And they don´t embrace this culture of travelling before university or after university. They don´t have this gap year. It´s becoming more and more popular and studying abroad is also becoming more popular, but when I started travelling my parents were really concerned. They were like “You don´t have money to travel, you need to focus on school, you need to focus on work.” And I thought no, I have it backwards, I´m travelling because I can now and when I do focus on work then I won´t be able to travel anymore. And then I kind of never stopped travelling.
Do you want to keep on travelling or do you want to settle down in the United States eventually?
That´s a difficult question for me now. Because, right now I´m 24 and I think I would like to keep travelling for the next few years and I will think about settling down maybe when I have some children. But really, until my children start school I don´t think I want to settle down, I think I want to keep moving around and keep experiencing new places, because I can. When they get to school then it´s a little bit more difficult. My boyfriend is not so fond of the United States for living. He´s lived there with me for a few months at a time and he brought to my attention how much time we spend in our cars. So, when I became aware of then I realized I don´t want to spend years of my life like that either. And it´s years of your life when you add it up.
So, Americans really spend a lot of times in their cars?
Yeah, well let´s say as much time as you spend in your car you spend on a bike. But on a bike it more healthy and more happy and a different kind of attitude. Maybe it´s even more time than you spend on a bike because of traffic. But living in Las Angeles, yeah easily two hours per day in a car and some overtime.
What would you say would be the biggest difference between the United States and Europe?
It probably is this car thing. I mean the cities in America are not built for walking, they are built for cars. I don´t know a city, besides Manhattan, New York, where you can go straight from your house to a restaurant without thinking how am I going to get there? What taxi or uber do I have to call? In California it´s like this: even if you want to walk somewhere it´s still seen as a negative thing. Even if you can it would be better to take an uber five minutes down the street. It´s just a weird culture thing. The public transport system is not very efficient, the cities just aren´t built for walking, they are built for cars. There´s also a consumerist agenda there to get everybody to buy a car and it´s worked very well. Everybody I know has a car and some have more than one. So that´s true.
So, can you go for a walk in the United States for example, or do people don´t like to do that?
People also don´t typically go for walks. Even if they could run to the gym they would drive there to run on a treadmill. That´s a funny thing. If they want to go for a hike they won´t hike to the mountain to hike the mountain. And it saves you time of course. And it´s just they way the cities are built and the way people think. I would love to see a city in the United States being built not to deal with cars. To be built to deal with bikes or electric scooters. And I think it would be a lot more efficient. You could get so much more in such small space.
Can you think about any prejudices you would still like to clarify?
Yeah, I just feel like when I watch TV about things that are going on in my country, I don´t feel that´s me they are talking about. I don´t feel it´s my country or my people. I feel that the average American person is completely disconnected from everything you see on TV about America. Even Hollywood. I´m from Hollywood, but most people from America of course have nothing to do with America, most people from America have nothing to do with Washington DC and Trump and the president. And the views that you see reflected on the news about America do not reflect the people and that would definitely mean we are not a real democracy. We are trying to be, but we are not. It´s the one percent taking over everything.
Would you have some last thoughts you would like to add?
Yeah, Americans are trying to change things. They are trying to change themselves they are trying to change the word. There´s a lot of good things going on in America even energy wise like electrical cars and Tesla. They talk about more bad things on the news and these things.
This interview with Britney was really interesting. Even though you may think: “Oh, the United States, don´t we know so much about them already?” I guess you were surprised. There´s still a lot of things we don´t know about the United States. I, for example, do not know much about the different cultures in all the different states. And I bet few people do. But we still make up an image of the fat, gun obsessed white American who´s loud and proud and cheers to Trump. As we dept a bit further into it, I saw how diverse America is. I have friends from America, I already met a lot of people from there. But I never interviewed them, I never got to know their culture in such dept. So, even if we think we know a culture we can never rely on images presented on TV. We can never trust an image of a country when we have never taken a step into it. It´s quite hard to step into every single country of this earth, but there´s an easier way of getting to know each other. Talking, exchanging, broadening your mind. Never think you know it all. Like this interview showed me, you can never know it all for real.
Interested in more? Here´s a link two my latest two blog posts about Tunisia and Russia!
Sources: Images: Google Search
Ingredients (for 2 hungry people)
- 150g Seitan
- 1 Onions
- 150g Chickpeas
- 4 leaves Kale
- 1 Avocado
- 1 piece of red bets
- 2 Sweet potatoes
- BBQ Spice
- Hemp seeds
- 2 Table spoons of Soy Sauce
- 2 Table spoons of Soy milk
- 2 Table spoons Salsa
- 3 Table spoons of Chili sauce
I love Buddha Bowl, they taste sooo good and you can add as many different foods as you like. You can be creative you can create your own favorite version. I made a very protein rich buddha bowl with chickpeas and seitan, but also included some healthy greens with our kale. So, without further explanation, let´s get into cooking.
First of all, we are going to soak our chickpeas overnight. You can used canned ones if you like to skip this step, but I like to cook them as it gives them a fresher flavor. On the next day, put your chickpeas in a pot and cover them with water. Then boil them until they are nice and soft. Make a taste test every once in a while to get to your perfect softness.
Then, cut up your sweet potatoes. Don’t cut them all through, cut thin, vertical stripes into them, but leave the end untouched to hold it together – as you can see in the picture. Pop them into the oven at 200°C and bake them 35-40 minutes.
Now we can focus on the seitan. Slice up an onion into thin slices and let it roast in a pan for a few minutes. Once the onions are golden brown, you can add in your seitan. Slice it up into as tiny pieces as you like and add it to the onions. Then mix everything together and let the mixture roast for about 10 minutes. Add a table spoon of BBQ spice to it to enhance that nice grilled flavor, then remove it from the heat.
Next, we can go on with our kale. Slice the leaves into thin pieces, then put them into a pan. Cover them in a bit of water and steam the kale until it is soft. Add a pinch of salt and cilantro as well to spice it up, then take it away from the heat.
After that we can slice up our red bets. I like to buy fresh red bets as well as it is, again, healthier. However, you can used caned ones as well if you want to skip the next steps. Peal the skin of your red bets, slice them into small pieces. I like to cut them vertically first and then horizontally. Then add some water to a pot to cover your red bets. Boil them until they are nice and soft to add them to the bowl.
Last but not least we are going to peal our avocado. Cut it into small stripes and add it to the bowl as well!
For our bowl, we are done so far. But what would be a Buddha Bowl without sauce?
For the sauce, mix all of our ingredients listed above in a pot and bring it to a simmer. This helps the mixture to thicken and get a nice saucy texture.
Then we are ready to assemble! Line your food up on the side of your Buddha bowl and drizzle the sauce onto it. While eating you can mix everything together as well. Enjoy!
Interview with a girl from Tunisia
Which country do you consider to be your country?
Actually, I can´t respond to that directly because I consider both, Tunisia and Turkey, to be my countries. I was born in Tunisia, but I lived in Turkey for two years and I know their culture very well. People would even consider me Turkish. I know all their jokes, all their problems, everything. I really like the Turkish culture and I could consider it my own. If I can get a nationality one day I would really love to get the Turkish one. But I can´t deny that Tunisia is also my country because I was born there, because Tunisians are the people I understand the most. So, I would say that I´m half half.
Do you feel more at home in Turkey or in Tunisia?
Right now in Turkey, because I live there. I know the places where I can have fun at, a lot of my friends are in Turkey – even though I have a lot of friends in Tunisia. But when I go to Tunisia it feels a bit more touristic, because I go there just once a year and it´s for fun and going to the beach. I don´t really feel at home there even though I have my own room and that. So Turkey is definitely my new home now.
Would Turkey also be the country you choose to live in for good?
Yes. I really want to work there. Every day when I wake up in the morning I would just smile and say I´m really happy to be there, you know? Right now, I´m living in Barcelona and when I wake up in the morning I´m like shit I´m still here.
What do you especially like about Turkey?
So – everything actually. The thing I like most is the language, because the language is a very rich one. There are a lot of things I didn´t find in any other language. I speak almost five languages and in all those languages there is nothing as warm and as close to the heart as in the Turkish language. And everything is easy there. Transportation, living there, communication with people – I mean, I´m in love with the country, so I would only say good things about it, even though one euro right now is 70 Turkish lira, so – we´re poor here in Europe.
Where do you live in Turkey?
I live in Istanbul.
Have you already travelled around there?
Yes, every time I can, I try to travel around. I already visited 16 out to 81 cities. Which is not bad, but not even half of it. But Turkey is a really big country and 16 is already a big achievement for me, since I´ve lived there for 2 years and I´m studying at the same time. So, travelling is not really an option. But I try my best.
Could you tell me some general misconceptions people have about Turkey and Tunisia?
So first, I would start with Tunisia, because it´s the most obvious one. If I tell people I´m from Tunisia, they would think that we live in the desert and we don´t have any computers. When I went to Turkey people would look at me and ask “You have a computer? How did you get it?” And one day I was in the cafeteria of my university and people would ask me “Where did you learn how to use a fork and a knife?” And people sometimes ask, “Do you know how to ride a camel?” No – I don’t know how to ride a camel, we have cars and everything. It´s a normal country. But people always think that Africa is just about people riding camels and eating with their hands.
For Turkey, the thing I hear the most is that people always think that Turkish is the same as Arabic. So, as I am coming from an Arabic country they would think directly that I speak Turkish because it´s the same language. It´s not. Turkish is coming from Persian, Latin and Arabic, but it´s a mix of all the languages, so it´s a very rich one. If you only know Arabic, you wouldn´t understand anything in Turkish. What people also tend to think about Turkish people is that they are all Arabs. That´s not true. They are all mostly Muslims, but they are not Arabs, definitely not.
Where you also already confronted with prejudices about religion?
Yeah, of course. If you´re coming from Tunisia or from Turkey they would directly assume that you´re Muslim. No not necessarily, there is a lot of Jewish and Christian people in Tunisia, we even have an Island full of Jewish people, where there is no other religion. People from Jewish countries would come and visit it. It´s a very sacred place. And in Turkey everyone would consider that you are Muslim too. But there are a lot of atheist people as well that don´t really believe in good.
Do you think people would treat you differently if you would say you´re from Turkey or you´re from Tunisia?
It depends on which county I am in. If I’m in Turkey and if I say I´m Turkish in a shop they would be happier and the prices would be very different. But still, when I´m at university people know that I´m Tunisian. Here, it would be different because people would say: “Oh there´s a foreigner with us, but she speaks Turkish as a Turkish.” So they would be happier to have me there. Sometimes, being Tunisian has its advantages, sometimes being Turkish has it´s advantages. It always depends on the place. But there is one thing: When I´m in Turkey and I say I´m Turkish, everyone would believe it. But if I say I´m Turkish in Tunisia, no one would believe it. They know that I’m Tunisian from my face.
You´ve been living in Spain for a while now – what would you say is the biggest difference between Spain and Turkey and Spain and Tunisia?
The biggest difference is the value of entertainment here. Turkey is definitely a fun country, but no one would every pay 4 euros for a beer in Turkey – which would be 4 multiplied with 7 – so no one would ever pay that. But here people are like: “Ok, so let´s have fun, let´s pay all our money on beer.” Barcelona (since I´m living in Barcelona) is also really diverse city. We were sitting on the table before and everyone was from a different country. In Turkey that doesn’t happen that much. So I think in Spain, the biggest difference would be the diversity of people and how people just can have fun going to the beach. That doesn´t happen neither in Turkey nor in Tunisia. We would go to the beach once a month or twice a month. Here, it´s fun every day.
Before you said Turkey doesn´t attract that many foreigners – why do you think that is that way?
Actually it does. We have tourists everywhere. Only the Asian side of Istanbul – we don´t have that many tourists, because it´s more the Turkish people living there. But on the European side you have a lot of tourists. If you go there, everybody speaks Arabic or some other language. So, it attracts a lot of people, but most people are also afraid to go to Turkey, because they think there are a lot of terrorists, bombs and that. So they would be like: maybe let´s look for a safer destination.
What could you tell those people who are afraid of going to Turkey?
I think everywhere it´s dangerous. If you´re afraid of terror or whatever, it can happen to your country, it can happen basically everywhere. So, just visit the world. Its not about Turkey or about Tunisia, it´s not about any specific country. Just travelling around, discovering new cultures is amazing, so just travel.
As a last statement, would you like to clarify some prejudices you were already confronted with?
I really want people to go more to Africa. To go to Europe as the most wanted destination shouldn´t be a thing. Most countries look alike here. In Africa, most countries don´t look alike. If you want to compare Tunisia to Senegal or South Africa, it doesn´t have to do anything with those countries. So Africa is really a diverse continent. Each country is different. Ok let´s say north Africa pretty much looks alike, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco are pretty much the same, but the other ones are really different. And I really want people to discover different destinations. I mean people would like to go to France, but they would not go to Africa. But come on, in Tunisia we even speak English, we speak French we speak a lot of languages. So just travel, try to know different cultures except the popular ones. That would be my eternal thoughts and my advice to people.
This interview was particular interesting, as I had the amazing opportunity to interview this girl about two different cultures at the same time. It showed me once again that your nationality, your passport doesn´t entirely define who you are. You can choose your culture on your own. Your culture will be the one you feel at home. For me, that´s an amazing shift to people becoming citizens of the world, not only citizens of one single country. We can start getting to know different nationalities on a different level, embrace them until they become our own. Of course, it is hard to completely forget about nationality as we are brought up in a certain environment that has undeniable influence on us. But having a broader sense of what nationality means for you is a really beautiful message.
Sources of Images: Google
Ingredients (one hungry person)
- Whole wheat bread
- 1 Zucchini
- 1 Paprika
- 7 Champignons
This recipe is super easy, but so satisfying! If you crave a real sandwich with bread and lots of stuff inside, try out this one. It´s also a perfect lunch or little snack in between – depending on how big your bread will be.
Cut one zucchini in the middle, then cut off stripes of the lengths. The stripes should be around 3mm thick, so they get a nice roasted flavour afterwards. Then add some oil or vegan butter to a pan and roast your zucchini on both sides. Add salt and pepper on top before you flip them, then take them out and put them aside. Repeat the same thing with your paprika. Cut it in stripes and let it roast on both sides, adding salt and pepper. Then chop up your champignons, adding them to the pan. Here you don´t even need to add oil as mushrooms usually produce a lot of liquid themselves. Roast them until the liquid has evaporated, then add salt and pepper again.
Once you have roasted your veggies, you can start out toasting your bread gently on both sides. This is optional, but I really love my bread when it´s toasted. Then add a generous amount of hummus on both sides of the bread. You can also make your own hummus (recipe on how to do so is linked below). Then we´re ready to assemble! Put the zucchini on top of your hummus, then the paprika. Then close it up with the second half of your sandwich! And you´re good to go! Wrap it up and eat it on the go or as a really ,really satisfying lunch in your break at work everybody is going to be envious of.
Interview with a Russian Girl
Which country would you consider to be your country?
Well, I haven´t been to too many countries to define it, but I was born in Russia, yes. And I like my country, I like the culture, I like the people and many things that I remember from my childhood. But, to start with, I was born in Kazan which is situated in the middle of Russia, 800 kilometers away from Moscow. There we´ve got like all four seasons. And for example for me, it´s hard to bear the cold. I get brochities all the time, I start to cough and so on. So I´m not a huge fan of cold temperatures and frost. But my family, for example, they like it. For my mum it´s easier to do stuff in winter. She´s completely fine with winter. But she hates summer, because she can´t stand heat. Most of the summertime she spends in shade and in places that work with AC. For me it´s vice versa. So I would change four seasons for one. Summer by the beach with palms. But in Russia, we have places like this actually, we have beaches like in Krasnodar Region. But still they are not the center of Russia, not the capital. It´s just a few cities. But still, a lot of money should be put there to develop the region, especially after Crimea. After the Olympic games, the Sochi Games, a lot of people from Russia started to move there, so the prices also went up. But, coming back to the question about my country, I´m not sure yet. I still want to travel. I like to see different countries. I think I will probably be living in a place which is also quite international. With sea and palms and beach all year long and I could visit my family in winter. Here, in Barcelona I think people are lucky because it´s nice all year around. I´m impressed by Barcelona. But as for my country, I´m not sure yet.
So you think once you travel more that feeling of belonging to a country could change?
Maybe. It also depends on the people I meet. I mean I don´t know who will be my husband and stuff. So yeah, I mean I`ll still have to make a decision. For example, it was my dream to live in Cuba. Because I saw a picture of it and it was just so beautiful, the island and the sea. After that I wanted to go to Brazil. Like oh, yes, I will live in Brazil. Especially when I saw all these Carnival movies. Now I got to know Barcelona. But well, I definitely want to live somewhere with comfortable weather and nature. I really like sea and mountains. So probably something like this. But I´m not sure yet.
Coming back to Russia for a bit. Could you tell some general misconceptions people have about Russia you would like to clarify?
First, it definitely comes to drinking. Like Vodka. All people in the world have heard that before. And secondly, that it´s really cold. So, why is that not true? First, yes there is Vodka in Russia. But that doesn´t mean we drink it every Friday and Saturday. For example, me, my family and friends we don´t drink at all or we prefer wine. So I can´t say that Vodka is that popular just as a clear thing. Usually we do cocktails and a lot of people also keep fit, they do sports, they stick to their diet and don´t really drink at all. So it doesn´t mean that a lot of people, that all people in Russia drink. Although, according to the statistics yes. We are one of the most drinking countries in the world unfortunately. Yeah, but my family, my friends and my accountancies, they don´t drink at all or just for holidays. And secondly it´s very very cold. Yes, I already said it. But it depends on which region in Russia you mean, because Russia is quite big and for example in south regions it´s really really warm. And for example, in the middle of Russia it can get cold, especially around Christmastime. Christmas, but in the orthodox church which is around the 7th January. So, sometimes it is cold, but unless you go really far to the north it´s not unbearable. I myself am more exposed to cold probably. It was really hot in summer though. In Kazan we had 38 degrees in summer. And I remember that here in December it was raining and we got our snow closer to January. In winter it was -4°C and there were a few days with -25°C, but then it was – 4°C again. So pretty comfortable weather. Drizzling sometimes.
When it comes to Russia people have a lot of different opinions, especially about politics. Were you already confronted with some prejudices about Russian policy as well?
Yes, yes, oh politics, our society in Russia doesn´t love to talk about politics at all. I was born in 1996 and since that time I´ve just seen one president. It was Mr. Putin. He was just keeping his place for like 4 years and in Russia it´s also a really debatable thing, a lot of people are annoyed about it. It´s obvious that it´s not normal. And yes, a lot of people don´t support him. I don´t know which western views you have. But in Russia it´s split in half. Maybe 50% support him and 50% don´t. So, in this sense the political situation is sad.
Is it also hard to explain the situation to people from outside who have a different view than people in Russia?
Yes, yes it is, exactly. Every politician wants to show himself in a better light. But for sure in Russia they wouldn´t show something that would hurt his (Putins) reputation. I can understand a lot of people, because they were brought up by parents who were born after world war 2nd and they went through all the terrible things that happened in the Sovjet Union. And for sure if we compare the 90`s when you didn´t get your salary but you got food as your salary to afterwards, when Mr. Putin came to power and it all changed, for sure some things got better. I can´t deny that. But from that time, 18 years have already passed and we didn´t go that far from there. We made the relationship in our country even worse. So, it definitely should be changed, in my mind.
Do you think if there would be another president, the situation would change?
Well, the president is just one person. I don´t think one person can change everything. Even if you take Putin form the pole and another guy would take the office and that doesn’t mean the country would change. It´s the system, the approach, in general, how it goes in the country. Some laws should be changed, the whole structure. But it´s a big process that will take a long time.
Do you see yourself living in Russia in the future?
I think I could, because, for example, I’ve been to Moscow, I’ve been to Sant Petersburg, and in this two cities, they are really big. So there is a lot of possibilities for work and to have a career. But as I said I want to live somewhere warmer. And unfortunately these places are in the north. But St Petersburg is really nice. It was the cultural center of Russia, because it was the capital for many years, for several centuries. I´ve ben to the city and I know there are possibilities for people there.
Would there be anything else you would like people to know about Russia?
Well, I know most people know just know the two main cities like Moscow and St Petersburg. But there are a lot of places in Russia to get to know to see, to get to know the country further than just Moscow. If you really want to get an image of how it goes in Russia, if you want to see something apart from famous museums and fashionable places you should probably go somewhere further in Russia and visit cities what we call the gold ring. They also contain historical centers. You should go to the south of Russia to see how life is there. And go to Siberia, see the nature. I also want to see that myself one day. I also want to get out of the mega cites. In Russia there are living a lot of different nationalities in a lot of different parts in Russia. Russia is very big and a lot of people live there in different places, they have their own culture, their own language. Including my region. So, it´s much more diverse than just Moscow.
In this interview, I was talking to a girl from Kazan (situation stated in the map below) who wants to discover a lot of places before she settles down for her county. I, again learned a lot in this interview. It is fascinating, which imagine people who were brought up in a certain country, can provide of this country to an outsider. You can learn so much in just asking, talking, listening. That´s why I started this series which will go on for a while. We all need to listen and let someone talk sometimes.
Ingredients (for 2 hungry people)
- 3 cups of flour
- 1 cup of warm water
- BBQ spice
First I want to say this recipe is not meant to be a real Samosa. It was just the best translation I could find as I don’t know what to call it yet. Anyways, this stuffed dough rounds are delicious and the seitan inside gives them a nice, strong flavor. Filled with zucchini and paprika, this combination gets even better! You can also grab them as lunch and eat them on the go! So, let´s get into it!
To start out, mix your flour with 3 pinches of salt. Then add in one tablespoon of oil and one tablespoon of vinegar to it.Pour in your warm water. Be aware that it really needs to be warm, as the dough will not be sticking together that well and won´t be as easy to form using cold water. Mix everything together, then work the dough until you have a nice little dough ball. Transfer the ball onto a surface and work it with a rolling pin. Use some more flour underneath, to prevent the it from sticking to the surface. Then cut the dough in 10 x 10 cm pieces and fill them with our filling!
Chop up an onion and let it roast in a pan. Then chop up a block of seitan and add it to the onions. Afterwards, you can already add our BBQ spice as we want the seitan to absorb as much flavor as possible. Now we can cut our zucchini and paprika into tiny pieces and add them to the pan as well. Roast all of our ingredients together then add two gloves of garlic, chopped into small pieces. Spice everything up with a pinch of salt, pepper and maybe some more BBQ spice. Then you can already transfer the filling onto the dough.
Don´t overfill the samosas, otherwise you won´t be able to close them. Just add a little bit of filling in the middle of your dough and close them up pressing the ends together. Once you have repeated the process with all of them and you don´t have any dough left, you can transfer them onto a backing tray. Bake them in the oven at 250°C for about 25 minutes. Just take a look every once in a while to make sure they don´t get burned.
And there you have them! Nice and crispy and delicious. I usually serve them with patatas bravas on the side, which makes the combination even more awesome.