Alec is a young man from Australia with Indonesian heritage, who came to Europe in search of new ideas, people and information. “There is an inspiring ebb and flow of people with new ideas and attitudes here, in Australia this doesn’t happen, it feels too far away from anywhere”.
As he does not hold residential status and is not in possession of a valid visa to be in Europe, Alec is legally considered an illegal immigrant. “I came here voluntarily and I didn’t have any intentions of staying, it just happened.” He believes that the living conditions in Australia and The Netherlands (where he lives now) are more or less the same, just as any other place of the western world and he has found a passion embedded in it – “If you want work, you work, if you don’t want, you can always go to the bin”.
Alec is a fan of dumpster-diving: recycling food from that trash that has been prematurely discarded by mostly supermarkets. Back in Australia he used to live in a house that lived almost exclusively from food that was labeled as ‘trash’. “Why buy food when you can get perfectly good food from the bin? Regardless of nationalities, regardless of everything, dumpster food is for everybody. It is waste, it is for everyone in the same way as if there is an apple tree in the middle of the forest, everybody can take it. It belongs to nobody and therefore it belongs to everybody”.
Before getting deeper into the cooking, we stirred the conversation in a bit more serious direction and asked Alec how he felt being considered as an illegal immigrant in The Netherlands. Although he said that:“personally I feel the same as everybody that is living here legally, because for me it doesn’t make so much difference in terms of how you live day to day life,” he does feel the threat of being found out and deported on every border crossing or whenever he gets stopped by the police for any random reason. As response to what he thought would happen if he got deported, he answered he was not planning on finding that out, but; “because of my Australian passport, I think it would also be quite likely that they would just let me through. It is quite interesting, in terms of borders and distance, I am about as far as you can get, though, I have more rights here then someone say from Morocco.. This is a definition of injustice, why should it make any difference how you are treated when you come to a place, depending on where you are from?
When we asked what Alec has in mind to cook and he said with a smile “Shepherd’s pie!”. He had no particular relation with that meal, but explained that in Australia there is a big savory-pie culture and he had always wanted to make a Shepherd’s pie. He continues to explain that dumpster-diving is always random, so one must improvise, using the products you find to prepare basically anything.
As he began to cook, we asked him if he is influenced by dutch cuisine and if has incorporated a dutch element to his recipe – “Dutch cuisine for me is cooked kale, potatoes and meat, Stamppot, it is a bit boring”.
To begin with Alec’s wise words: “Use a lot of garlic, a lot of butter and a lot of salt.” Here is the recipe of his version of Shepherd’s Pie:
Shepherd’s Pie with recycled ingredients:
– 1 aubergine;
– Half a zucchini;
– 2 onions;
– 4 cloves of garlic;
– Tiny bit of pumpkin – (“originally I wanted to do a pumpkin pie but I ain’t got enough pumpkin”.)
– 1 paprika;
– 5 medium sized potatoes;
– 1 and half roll of pastry;
– 60 gr of butter;
– Curry powder;
– Pepper and salt;
– Some bouillon;
– Some ricotta
– Some milk
Wash and cut all the bad bits off the recycled veggies. Cut the aubergine and the zucchini in equal small sizes, then cut the paprika and the pumpkin into small dice shape pieces, slice the onion and the garlic. Start by frying the garlic and the onion, spicing them with curry powder, then turn the heat down and add the aubergine and the zucchini and cook until soft. Add the bouillon and cook until most of the water has evaporated.
Boil and cut the potatoes, once done mash them with the butter, milk and salt. (“The trick is to use butter and not oil. The more butter the better”).
Grease the baking tray, put the pastry onto it and then put in it all the cooked veggies, after which you put the whole thing into the oven on 180 degrees for about 30 minutes.
And there you have it! When we ask Alec if he has a message to the world, he says – “Look in the bin! Always look in the bin!”