Camilla invites us to join her at the dinner table
Tikitut community-based tourism offers an expedition of the unusual kind to places in northeast Gothenburg. Preferably along with food from around the world. I have booked a dinner at the Tikitut host Camilla Binjamen’s house and I am going to learn more about Assyrian dishes.
It’s a mild spring evening when I get off the tram at the stop Rymdtorget to meet Mehmet, one of Tikitut’s initiators.
–Our ambition is to create a neighbourhood where visitors can come and enjoy the local’s commitment. It can be anything from cooking courses or guided city or nature tours to bed and breakfast, says Mehmet when we walk to Camilla’s house.
I wonder what Tikitut means and Mehmet explains that the name is filled by each and everyone who has been to a Tikitut meeting. My experience is Tikitut.
Community-based tourism is a concept that is represented around the world. It’s a unique opportunity to get close to the locals in a village or neighbourhood and through that visit contribute to income for the inhabitants. We have reached Camilla’s front door and ring the bell. Mehmet has told me that we will be five people for dinner. Two other guests, and Hatuni, Camilla’s mother.
–Welcome, says Camilla and Hatuni. The two other dinner guests Anna and Marie are already here. Methmet leaves us to go back to work.
Camilla shows us around the apartment and says that she and her mother are also bed and breakfast hosts. The apartment is light and you can hear children laughing outside, from the open kitchen window.
–I enjoy cooking and having guests over, says Camilla when we are sat down for dinner. It’s usually a nice mix of food and interesting conversations. I also think it is fun to be able to cook the food I grew up with, food that we have cooked for several generations.
Camilla and her family are Assyrians and come from a small village in Turkey. The parents were farmers and grew vegetables and various kinds of cereal. But they also had lamb that they butchered for different holidays.
–That’s fatoush, says Hatuni and points to the salad on the table. The flavor is sourish and is similar to tabbouleh but without bulgur. It is served with deep-fried pita bread.
–But bulgur is a typical dish in Assyrian cooking, says Camilla when she puts more food on the table. Our bulgur is smaller in size and cooked along with a thin cut and roasted spaghetti. I cook it in meat stock, which gives it a rich flavour.
It smells divine from all the dishes on the table in front of me. Bulgur, two different types of apprach (stuffed wine leaf rolls and white cabbage rolls), vegetarian pie, deep-fried haddock, potatoes and Assyrian ratatouille. It’s hard to know where to begin.
–You should eat the vegetables with bulgur, says Hatuni and pass me the bowl.
I notice that she has a small cross and the year 2007 tattooed on her forearm. I ask her what it means.
–I visited Jerusalem in 2007 and the cross is a memory of that journey. Like a pilgrimage. Some Assyrians do that when they have been to Jerusalem, she explains.
I wonder what it is like to live in Bergsjön and Camilla tells me that she has lived in the area for 29 years. She and her mother have apartments opposite each other.
–I like it a lot here. The nature is so beautiful, but I think there should be more activities for everyone in Bergsjön, so that people who have never been here have a reason to go. We talked about that at work yesterday when we had Vårruset (an annual running race) in Slottsskogen . There should be a Bergsjörus too, we have many uphills and downhills here, says Camilla and laughs.
We round dinner off with coffee and two traditional dessert cookies, tatli and klecha. Hatuni offers her tea blend of black tea and spices. We smell it, but it is hard to distinguish what it is. Perhaps one is parsley?
We ask Hatuni where she bought the spices and she can’t help but to laugh when she tells us she got them in Switzerland, while visiting her nieces. Switzerland is perhaps not the country that you first associate with spices.
The evening has come to an end and it is time for us to say thank you and goodbye to Camilla and Hatuni. We decide that it is my turn to cook next time we see each other.
As I walk over to the tram stop I think about what Tikitut means to me. Hospitality and inspiration are a few words that come to mind.
Recipe for Camilla’s bulgur:
1 dl thin filini spaghetti (same as for minestrone soup)
3 dl bulgur (medium-sized)
6 dl water
2 vegetable stock (or meat stock)
chili to taste (can be left out)
½ tsk salt
100 g butter
Start by roasting the spaghetti on a baking tray in the oven in 200 degrees C. When the top layer has got some colour, mix it all until the spaghetti gets a golden colour. Check the spaghetti carefully so that it does not get burnt. Boil 6 dl water along with a stock cube, salt and butter. If you like chili you can add that when the water has come to the boil. Add spaghetti and bulgur to the water. Let simmer on low heath until all of the water Is gone. Goes well with vegetable or meat stew. Also a nice accompaniment in a salad.