Paweł Jurgielewicz Photo

Do you eat to live or live to eat?

What will you do on the warm autumn Sunday having no idea what you would like to do and eat that day? Will you stay at home looking at outside playing children and thinking that you do not have as much energy as you used to have? Will you look at the free falling leaves, preparing in your mind for the frosty winter? Or you will go for a walk and enter the festival of diversity that is taking place just behind the corner where you can meet people from different parts of the Globe and taste their cuisines’ best of the best?

Today, I am going to present you my photo glimpse from the Salon des Cuisines du Monde that took place 15 October in Saint Genis-Pouilly (France).

Family dressed in trafitional outfits - Eastern Europe

But first – a bit of historical background

Long time ago (more than 60 years) the world was curing its wounds after II World War. Those five years of unstopped fights between each other were not only the time of pain but also the (controversial) triumph of science. The greatest brains of that war time that created theory of quantum mechanics were involved in the most complex military projects. One of them and the most (in)famous one was the Manhattan Project.

The Great War finally ended but the scientific results remained with us. People started to think about what they had already discovered and how it may affect the world at the particle (subatomic) level. New complex theories were (and still are) coming and going but even the best theory is useless without its confirmation in nature.

Collaboration idea

The Manhattan Project showed that best results may be achieved when best minds of the world cooperate. If you focus best people (and money) in one place you have bigger chances of success. The problem was that nobody had as much money as scientists required. Nobody wanted also these future discoveries to be in possession of the only one country. People were just afraid of that it will turn against them.

The first problem was solved easily by making member states to contribute financially (not only by supplying the Organization with scientists and technicians). The second – somebody recalled that there is a place in the world where nobody cares about problems behind their borders. Switzerland.

Can science be attractive?

The CERN organization was established in 1954 in Geneva. All laboratories had to be designed and built from scratch and operated by somebody. That required highly qualified people. Quite a lot of them. Not only physicists hungry of new discoveries. They had to live somewhere but Geneva (and Switzerland in general) is not the cheapest place that you can think of.

Thankfully CERN campus was settled on the border between Switzerland and France. That was a real opportunity for all forgotten villages on the French side. If you look at their population dynamics you will clearly see the correlation with CERN’s development.

The evolution of population of Saint Genis Pouilly, French town near CERN

Years were passing and the diffusion processes were more and more evident. Perspective of earning decent amounts of money accompanied by a vast proposition of free time spending opportunities and extraordinarily healthy climate attract a lot of people from all over the world. Now and then.

Better in group

It is quite natural for people to join in groups if they have something in common. After some time abroad not knowing local culture and language (yes, I am ignorant about French) you just want to meet people that think and do the same things you do. No wonder that national associations started to appear. People there talk about their everyday problems, share experiences like:

  • Who is the best baby doctor in the area?
  • Is there anybody going to XYZ and could buy for you ABC? For Polish it is quite common to ask about mayonnaise because even the worst polish is way better than local french. It is awful in taste. I do not recommend.
  • How to pay taxes? And so on…

 Food, fun and celebration

On 15 October 2017 in Saint Genis-Pouilly, that used to be one of these forgotten villages 60 years ago, these small communities joined their forces to spread the information about their culture among local people. Strong representation of South America, Africa, India, France, Russia, Turkey and Poland prepared something traditional yet very tasty for everybody. Saying something here is a huge underestimation, I know 🙂 .

The event started at 11 o’clock but I arrived just before midday. To my surprise there were already almost all eating places taken. And one of the booths was attracting the biggest attention. 

Main course

Polish stand was just on the left of the main entry catching your eye with beautiful food. Bigos, pierogi (dumplings), gołąbki. “For me 20, takeaway” I heard from one of the women. The rate of interest was very high but the direct competition was the vast offer from the South America. Some people preferred small and tasty baked bolivian dumplings to leave more space for other specialities while others were talking whole dinning sets.

When you are enthusiastically talking about all your specialities that you prepared - Brasil

Desserts

I can risk the statement that sweets were the majority of all food that was available. Probably because they are quite small and thus fairly easy to consume. More importantly children like sweets (adults also).  

People are not camels – have to drink something

Maybe some water, a glass of french wine or whole bottle of whisky? No problem. Do you want to feel as you were on the sunny beach at the ocean? Fresh juice-based drinks await!

Decoration

The last ingredient of all stands was the decoration of course. In my opinion Brazil won in this category. Maybe partially because of the fact that they had much better light near glass wall while others were lit by the artifficial light. Anyway, somebody put a lot of effort to create it.

A bit of summary

I was actually very surprised how fast I got full. There were so many things left I did not manage to taste. It is also good to mention that everything was very affordable. Prices were mostly between 1 and 3 euros, that depended on how big the snack was. Crepes and beer were a bit more expensive. Personally I have spent 25 euros on 2 people and we left full and happy.

It was very nice to get a taste of something different, you have never eaten before and it had been prepared for you. Seeing those people dressed in their traditional outfits proud of their heritage – even far away from their home – is always priceless. 

Useful links:

Maps how villages near CERN developed over time with comparison now and then.

Call to action

You might have seen that there is a lot of artistic content coming to this blog recently – Portfolio, Researchers’ Night at CERN. I am putting a lot effort to do my best. Some of the pictures you can also see on my Instagram account. As I strongly believe that good and visually appealing content is what you want, without Your engagement the information about this blog is not coming to others that might be interested in this as well.

Think about the people you know or groups you are in – maybe the subjects I am trying to cover here are something they might like. Maybe facebook groups of associations that had their booths on Sunday?

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Thank you!
Paweł Jurgielewicz
Photographer and Programmer