The city of Vienna has been governed by the Social Democrats, either alone or in coalition with other parties, since 1945. That’s an unbroken stretch of 70 years! Not bad for a governing party, considering that Vienna is a well-run city and has consistently ranked among the top 3 cities of the world for quality of life for the past decade or two. Among the reasons for the city’s success is the large number of initiatives by private citizens concerned about social justice in the age of globalisation.
One of these initiatives is by a non-profit organisation called Purple Sheep with the avowed objective of keeping an eye on the government to ensure that the city obeys its own laws concerning the welfare of refugees. In brief, PS’s objective (stated in the photo below) is to keep track of, publicise, and protect refugees from excessive official zeal in upholding the law.
Every so often, registered refugees fall through cracks in the legal framework, are declared inelegible for asylum, and have to leave the country although they might have lived in Austria for years while waiting, and have become well integrated. Appeals are possible, but people live in a kind of limbo while waiting for a decision on an appeal, and they are not allowed to work during this period. So in early 2014, Purple Sheep decided to set up Purple Eat; a place where refugees waiting for a decision on their case for asylum (currently 15 families) can provide a service while conforming to the law.
Housed in a distinctive purple container-like building among the other market stalls on the Rosaliagasse 5 in Vienna’s 12th district, Purple Eat serves a choice of 2 menus, 5 days a week, Tuesdays to Saturdays, from 11 am to 11 pm, prepared by the refugees themselves. What is on offer on a particular day depends on the nationality of the persons responsible for the meal. I visited the place on Thursday evening this week and found a choice of 2 main courses. A Haitian beef goulash, or a Georgian-style mushroom goulash, both menus accompanied by a standard soup, salad and a dessert (no choice here) for 7 Euros. I decided on the Georgian mushroom, and a glass of white wine.
The soup arrived quickly, a delicious cream of tomato. It was followed by a salad. The lettuce was absolutely crisp and fresh. The dressing was obviously ready-made, out of a packet, but at 7 Euros for a 3-course meal, there are no complaints from this quarter. The Georgian mushroom goulash came next, served in typical Georgian style, topped with a dollop of cream and a sprinkling of walnut. Delicious. And for dessert, a small piece of freshly made cottage cheese pastry (topfen strudel). The menu price of 7 Euros is a recommendation. Customers are encouraged to pay more if they like, since all the money goes directly to the refugee families. Purple Sheep is apparently staffed entirely by volunteers (who don’t get paid, natch), so all the proceeds of go directly to the families who are cooking on that day. Expect a variety of menus, depending on the families who serve their traditional cuisine on different days. I encourage you to go there and be surprised.
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