In honour of May Day this year I decided to finally help out at a squat near my house which provides a cheap vegan meal for anyone who wants it twice a week, staffed by volunteer cooks, cleaners and hunter-gatherers who salvage edible food from garbage containers in the surrounds. This dinner was a fundraiser for political prisoners in Spain and Bosnia.
The cook this time was a lovely bear of a man from Hungary, who drummed up a menu of Polenta, ratatouille(lightly spiced with cinammon) and baked cherry tomatoes very confidently for 50 guests. I was put to work finding the duds in a batch of cherry tomatoes salvaged from a nearby shop. Out of 10 trays there were 5 or 6 vrot ones. And yet these had been turfed, astoundingly! Together we made a huge salad and talked about child-rearing, politics, pink-washing and cooking. The chef recounted how he had learned to cook by being the assistant of his disabled gran and following her instructions. And also how in the Soviet years he grew up in, it was illegal for anyone to slaughter an animal as all belonged to the state. Animals had to be slaughtered secretly, discretely by cover of night.
I thought of my abuela as I washed the tomatoes, a woman who would not waste anything. And I thought of the ideals that can link an 80-year old Catholic woman and some young anarchists together. Ideals that nothing should be wasted or taken forgranted. That everyone has the right to a good meal and place to live, even if they are poor. Ideals of putting yourself at the service of others.
More than the food, it was the company that was nutrioning. And the feeling of being useful, being part of something, being alive