A video from a creator from Turkey, sharing a recipe for a classic Turkish dish, with tips and secrets they learned from their matriarch… now available to me, and you, and anyone else with an internet connection. This video showed up as a suggestion in my feed, of course, after I had already watched many cooking videos. I was able to watch it because the video had subtitles, English subtitles that helped me understand their accent. This particular video, with all these details intertwined, made me think about how the internet – and food – can connect us in so many ways. Connection, that’s a key word here. 

Blue gradient background with dots of light connected by lines of light, forming a network.
(image created by freepik)

Food is a huge part of our culture: our local culture, our family culture, and now also our internet culture. It connects us all, one way or another. We all need it to sustain our physical bodies, and it can also carry a great cultural baggage – being a great way to get to know other cultures, connecting with people from places we’ve never been, and amplifying our sense of belonging. 

Each recipe can have its own history, sometimes its own family legacy. And every new one I learn (or get obsessed with) teaches me something, it can be great or small, but I feel like I get to feed not only my body, but also my soul. That was profound, but I’m not exaggerating. It really feels like I’m feeding something deeper and feeling more connected to other cultures and territories around the globe. 

A new voice

Oh, hi! Before we get into my current food obsession, let me introduce myself. I’m one of the new voices of the Amara Blog, my name is Thais, I’m a project manager at Amara On Demand and I’m located in Brazil. I have the privilege of working online and being in constant contact with people from all over the world. I have never traveled beyond my country’s borders, but I already took many trips around the world – one recipe at a time.

Illustration of a hand holding a boul shaped like half of the globe, filled with food items such as vegetables, a piece of chesse and a fried egg.
(image created by freepik)

My latest food obsession was AREPAS. A traditional breakfast food from South America, each country has its own spin on it, there’s Venezuelan Arepas, Bolivian Arepas and so on. But we don’t have them in Brazil. We have plenty of traditional food made with corn here, but there’s no arepas to be found.  A simple preparation of corn flour, water and salt; shaped and then fried, grilled or baked, and accompanied by any filling of your liking.

A photograph of a portion os arepas.
(image created by freepik)

And so I started my research. Soon I found out that, despite its simplicity, the recipe for arepas had a special ingredient: the corn flour. If you ever tried to make any of the traditional corn recipes from Latin America having no access to the specific brand of harina it calls for you might know what I’m talking about. So then I started my journey to learn more about the specific harina I needed for the arepas recipe. A couple of recipe videos later, a deep dive into the harina making process, and only after having access to a picture of the label of the harina itself I was able to locate the key that would make the recipe possible for me – the corn flour was pre-cooked! 

It’s interesting to think about how much work I had to do to find the small detail that would make this recipe possible. But it’s also satisfying to be able to learn so much and be able to experience the process of making and trying the food that means so much to so many people. It makes me feel connected to them somehow, to have this little taste of their culture. And that would not be possible without the wide range of resources we can find online. I’m a great believer that digital accessibility fosters connection, human connection, and this is a great example of that.

I learned about Amara and first joined its efforts for a more accessible internet about 8 years ago, when I joined their volunteer teams. Getting involved in actions to foster change is also a great way to feed your soul.  At Amara, we have this dream of creating a space where people belong. We want to make the online informational world accessible across cultures and languages and we encourage everyone to get involved. If you speak more languages, join here to help translate videos in as many languages as possible. Let’s give everyone a chance to feel connected! 

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