If you are reading this letter, you have become part of the GIVE AND TAKE event that I have invented and organised for European Kitchen – a project exploring food, art and hospitality.
My name is Kateřina Šedá and I am a Czech visual artist; I have long been dealing with relationships between people. First of all, though, I am a mother of two daughters who has exactly the same joys and worries as you. A year ago, at the playground, it would have never occurred to me how strange it must feel for my daughter to see me sitting with several other parents in a circle around a children's sandpit and being all silent. While our children who have never met before are merrily talking right in front of us, lending and borrowing toys or building castles, we are intently looking at our mobile phones or silently staring in front of us. Is this the dream status of adulthood, with all of us having housing, work, cars, but being unable to find common ground?
For all of us, this year has changed our view not only of normal life, but also of what we call a normal place and a normal time. We have suddenly found out that ordinary things are not nearly as obvious as they might seem at first glance, and our only certainty is in well-functioning relationships. No matter whether you live in the Czech Republic, Germany or Estonia, in Europe we are unfortunately losing the basic things all together. That's why I have decided to search for a common language right where our children naturally find it, unlike us who have obviously lost it.
For many children, the sandpit is the first kitchen where they start cooking with sand, the first table where they serve their meals, and the first laboratory where they taste each other’s products. Today, however, the situation will change and you get a unique opportunity to experience what your children do – to sit together at a set table and experience together what most of us have forgotten. You may be embarrassed for a while, but your children will definitely help you! Try to forget your duties for a while and find common ground. You may just be sitting at the table with someone that you meet regularly, but there has never been an opportunity to break the barrier of silence. Maybe that in the eyes of your children you are right now finally behaving "normally" – sitting at the same table and talking to each other, no matter what country you are from, what is your age, race, religion or political affiliation.
I believe that in the end you will say goodbye just like your children: "Hello and see you again tomorrow at the same place!"
Although I can't be with you, I wish you Bon appétit in this way at least; be brave enough to forget about all stereotypes!