It is the tradition in French Guiana to eat a dish called Awara Soup on Easter Monday. It is said that when one eats it, one will never leave Guiana. One becomes Guianese, one becomes Créole. This is the legend recounted by French-Malgasy producer Marie-Clémence Paes. With her Brazilian filmmaker husband, Cesar, they are a filmmaking couple whose purpose is to produce films about the riches of the Southern Hemisphere, as countries in these regions are often stereotyped, focusing only on their problems and difficulties.
They made the film Bouillon d'Awara/Awara Soup with this in mind. Marie-Clémence sees the film as a metaphor for the many diverse cultures that live together in relative harmony in this small region of the world. She has this to say about the film:
We decided to make a film about a place in the world, a kind of little laboratory in the world, where people from very different cultures and races live in one location. It is a tiny place, a microscopic area, which is why we like to say laboratory. We went to shoot a film in a little village in Guiana where there are 1,500 inhabitants, and among these 1,500 people there are thirteen languages spoken. Over the last twenty years, sixty percent of the population of this city is made up of recent immigrants. They come from the Antilles, Brazil, China, Laos, France—from where there has been a presence for a long time—and, of course, there were Amerindians from the beginning, and there are also Lebanese. Actually, there are people from all of the continents who are in this little place together, and who intermix. We wanted to show that, despite the increase of nationalism everywhere, in the world there exists a glimmer of hope. In this little place the people are able to live together despite all the different languages, cultures, colors, and customs.
The history of the metissage and cultural mélange in Bouillon is actually told through the preparation of a dish called Awara Soup. It is a metaphor because it is a dish whose ingredients normally are not cooked together. Pork is not cooked with shrimp nor are cucumbers mixed with eggplant; these are not what normally blend together in a dish.
There was another story that was not in the film that I found very interesting. When invited to eat Awara Soup, the mistress of the house never obliges anyone to eat everything. She comes to ask you what you want to eat. The person who wants to eat only shrimp may do so; the person who wants to eat only fish may do so. The person who wants to eat everything may do so. But she never says, "Here taste this." No, it really is about fishing about in the soup to find the consistency, or the color, or the odor that appeals to you.
Le Bouillon d'Awara/Awara Soup - trailer