“The very first thing I did when I first came to Amsterdam was smoke a joint. But I got the impression, as I sat on the floor of Centraal Station, that if I stayed here I’d do nothing but smoke. And that wasn’t what I intended to do. So after four hours in Amsterdam I left for Texel. I was young and wanted to travel. Actually, I really wanted to go to Australia. But the friend I was to go with pulled out and so I went alone. Texel reminded me of Australia, so why would I want to live so far away? Since then I’ve lived in Amsterdam for eighteen years and feel like a real Amsterdammer. I think you’re allowed to call yourself an Amsterdammer if you care about the city, and care for it. I do this with Rainarai, a nomadic restaurant with Algerian dishes.
I think Amsterdam is the most beautiful city in the world. And I have seen so many. Paris, London (I find London so dirty). I am so happy I didn’t go to live in London, which had once been my intention. I hated my life in that city. I am so happy in Amsterdam. It is an accessible city. Small but perfect. And if you have to travel from one part of London to another you need hours, and the journey is all underground. When I see people coming out of the underground I think, ‘They’re like animals’.
I go back to Algeria once a year. I go into the desert in my Landrover. Just me and my car - which I sleep in. You only bump into people every five hundred kilometres. I love it. Once a year I can leave all my work stress behind.
My biggest dream is to make a TV series about cooking. It will be called ‘From Amsterdam to Algeria’. I love cooking. And vegetables. Walking through the grocery departments between all these wonderful vegetables. I couldn’t be happier!”
616 people in Amsterdam have the Algerian nationality.