Arabic bread, falafel and other Arab foods are popular in Germany. Food dishes in Germany have become more varied since the summer of 2015, when it welcomed tens of thousands of refugees. But to what extent are refugees interested in specializing in the culinary field?
Famous dishes and appetizers from the Middle East, such as tabbouleh, baba ghanouj, and falafel are known by different names in Germany or according to their ingredients, such as tabbouleh: parsley salad, fried chickpea balls to refer to falafel, and eggplant paste for Baba Ghanouj.
Like many refugees, Salah Dahan, aged 27, fled Syria to Germany in 2015. He now works with other Syrians at the “Revoit” snack bar. “With the arrival of the refugees in Germany, many new dishes arrived with us,” he said. He added, “We have brought the most famous Arab dishes to Germany.”
Germany has always been a “multicultural country”, but the food culture has become more diverse since the summer of 2015, which witnessed a major wave of refugees. According to Rajai Al-Shamarka, a chef and member of the German Chefs Association, it was possible to buy Arabic dishes such as okra or African dishes such as hot sauce “chakalaka” in certain markets and a few years ago. “Now, what formerly knew Doner became known as shawarma,” says Rajai, an Egyptian immigrant.
Restaurants in Germany have become distinguished by their meal offerings and diversity, and this is due to workers in this field coming from different countries, according to Sandra Warden, the managing director of the German Hotel Association (Dehoga), “the hospitality industry is the most international industry.”
According to the Federal Employment Agency, the percentage of foreign workers in the hospitality sector reached 34 percent by the end of December of last year. This percentage includes migrants and refugees, and according to the Employment Agency, 13,783 people included in the statistic are from Syria. Eight of them work for Refueat in Berlin. “They reflect the food culture by cooking Syrian dishes,” says Ayman Azzawi, a member of Refueat, who was born in Berlin and has Syrian roots. Through “Refueat”, refugees can choose the daily shows themselves. Salah, for example, prefers to cook molokhia, which the Germans love and call funny.
On the other hand, according to the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB), there are no statistics on the number of refugees in Germany who choose to undertake vocational training in the field of cooking. Richard Beck, president of the German Chefs Association, justified the reason why refugees are not interested in choosing to specialize in this field, because a physically demanding job does not attract young people. He added, “Some want to complete scientific academic education after the integration stage. That is why they stayed away from training.”
This is often due to the theoretical part of the training, which may require an academic level that may be different from what is available in some countries, while the practical part is easier for many.
Despite this, many succeeded in joining the culinary profession, among them Salah Salah, who had specialized in mechanics in Syria. Cooking was just a hobby for him. Salah, standing behind the counter in the snack bar and receiving the customer’s following request, said, “Cooking. Has been my job for five months now.”