The municipality of San Sebastian launched “Sukaldanitzak – Diverse gastronomies” aiming to promote gastronomic and cultural exchange and interaction.
“Sukaldanitzak” (a pun between diversity and gastronomies in Basque) consists of culinary workshops given in normally private gastronomic societies by representatives from various cultures or countries. During Sukaldanitzak, the gastronomic societies open their doors to migrants and the ethnically diverse community to share their space and get to know their gastronomy and culinary traditions. Not only is there a cultural and gastronomic exchange, but the societies also become a space of mutual knowledge and interaction.
Every year around nine meals are prepared in nine different gastronomic societies on a Saturday in May. Around 270 people take part in this activity with 30 persons gathered in each society. Out of the participants, one third are of foreign or ethnic background.
The morning starts with a workshop for the citizens and members of the gastronomic societies. While the food is being prepared there is an exchange about each country’s meals and customs. During this time, representatives of the community preparing the dish open up the main ingredients and ways of cooking.
Once done, all participants enjoy the food. The event is a way to meet people, to get to know people from other cultures living in the city, to ask about their customs, and break down stereotypes. It results in a mixture of people and cultures, a place to live together. At the end of the afternoon, there is always time to sing and dance the songs of each country, both local and the guest culture.
Gastronomic societies were up to some years ago places where only men could gather and membership was needed to enter. Nowadays, most of the gastronomic societies are open to women, but foreigners very rarely have the chance to visit. The event offers opportunity for newcomers to get to know a gastronomic society, to share their culture and to learn more about Basque culture. For natives, it is a way of getting in touch with newcomers. Every year different cuisines are prepared with new things to learn every year.
The initiative was set up in 2012 as part of the cultural festival Olatu Talka. It has had very good results and every year most gastronomic societies want to repeat the experience with groups of different cultural backgrounds. The event is popular and most places are filled very quickly.
Cooperation is mainly with civil society, gastronomic and foreign background NGOs. It is supported by the municipality of San Sebastian.