What is a festive dinner without a dessert?
The special project 'Have a look in someone else’s kitchen' deserves a tasty dessert. The ingredients: a dash of expectations, three tablespoons of experiences and a smidgen of anecdotes from the participants.
In the end 22 people of 13 different nationalities participated. When matching the participants, we tried hard to accommodate everyone’s wishes….even the need to watch football, since the project took place during the soccer world championship. Afterwards, a lot of participants compared this project to a blind date. You meet up with someone you don’t know, and you just hope that it will be cosy. Indeed, a whiff of tension was experienced at the beginning of the first evening, on June 17th. Luckily this tension ebbed away quickly. As someone put it: ”At first it was strange but after a few minutes it felt normal. A good match, and a nice evening with nice people”. Someone else described it like this: ”It was a bit exciting but as soon as we were inside that disappeared. I immediately felt at ease and welcome”. For another person the first evening was a big surprise. Her match turned out not to be a woman, like she expected, but a man. After recomposing herself she was able to enjoy the evening. “In the course of the evening I started to get used to the idea.  I couldn’t back out anyway and would just had to be brave about it. He turned out to be a nice and quiet gentleman, he did his very best to make me feel at ease, and to get the best out of the evening.”
The starting point of ‘Have a look in someone else’s kitchen’ was to bring together different cultures through food/cooking. Judging from several reactions, it is obvious that this can lead to interesting discoveries. “It’s very interesting to see where the differences and similarities lie, for example, my  host was very critical about certain Dutch commercials. (There is only one Tax Authority, why on earth does it then need to advertise for itself?).”
“It seems that my guest doesn’t really feel like a foreigner here in the Netherlands, but she does when she goes back to Surinam! There she is seen as a foreigner because she lives in the Netherlands. She even has to pay more when she buys something at the market. I found that very surprising. We also talked about food. She only eats Dutch food. She has boerenkool much more often than I do! I actually get roti from the take-out all the time.“
“I know now that you can use grape leaves in the kitchen. And rice is not scary! ;-) ”
A couple of people indicated what they thought was less nice about this project. One participant was very disappointed in certain sports accomplishments: “What wasn’t nice about the evening was the soccer :) The Czech Republic lost that evening… For my girlfriend (who is Czech) that was not so nice.” Unclearness was a point of criticism for another person: ”It was not so nice not to know what was expected of you, for how long you could stay, whether you should bring something.”
All in all the reactions of the participants were very enthusiastic. A lot of people think the project should be repeated, with or without some minor changes. Anyway, we hope that the first edition of ‘Have a look in someone else’s kitchen’ has been a success for everyone. Probably there will be a follow-up sometime in the future, because this does taste of more….doesn’t it?